Monday, April 26, 2004

Abolish Broadcast TV

My acquaintance Tom Hazlett makes an excellent point that is discussed in this article:
Two years ago, Tom Hazlett shocked and amused broadcasters by telling the government to abolish broadcast TV. The notion, circulated in his Financial Times column, was so radical that the economist's suggestion was dismissed as Ivory Tower ranting.

Nobody's laughing now.

The feds aren't doing away with free over-the-air television. But the philosophy underlying Hazlett's thesis?that making room on the airwaves for new wireless communications is more important to the economy and society than protecting free TV?is gaining cachet. FCC staffers are trying to sell Congress a DTV-transition plan that puts a priority on reclaiming old analog TV channels, not on ensuring that TV viewers get HD pictures or other benefits of digital service. And that would trigger broadcasters' reversal of fortune.

'Broadcast TV is a niche player,' says Hazlett, a former FCC economist whose iconoclastic theories appear in leading business journals. 'Ninety percent of households are lining up every month to pay significant cable and satellite fees just to escape free broadcasting. Nothing more powerfully demonstrates the tremendous misallocation of a massive swath of radio spectrum.'


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