Too High a Price for America’s Next Generation TV System

Author: 

[Commentary] On November 16, the Federal Communications Commission granted TV licensees the right to provide what it euphemistically called “the next generation TV broadcast standard.” Although this giveaway of spectrum rights (popularly known as the “public airwaves”) to media plutocrats had substantial benefits for the American public, it also had needlessly high costs.

The broadcast band transition to mobile broadband service has included numerous government giveaways to licensees, including their proceeds from auctioning a public asset (unused guard band spectrum), the quintupling of their effective bandwidth (part of the shift from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0), and their tax breaks on this windfall. These multi-billion dollar giveaways to America’s media plutocrats have been grossly unfair to the rest of America. Unfortunately, like the giveaway of public assets to Russia’s plutocrats, this giveaway is now spilled milk. But the sad story of the excessively high price Americans were forced to pay to modernize their communications infrastructure needs to be told. Perhaps some useful democratic reforms, such as the scoring of government spectrum rights giveaways to private industry, could even come of it.

[J.H. Snider is the President of iSolon.org]


Too High a Price for America’s Next Generation TV System