The Spectrum Isn't Yours

As an old-time broadcaster since the 1960s, let me add a hearty endorsement of their right to own all the "stations" they want.
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Paul, I am a long-time lurker and reader of your editorials and thoughts.

I couldn't help but notice that "Mike" and Mark Mays of CC were agreed that a single company should be allowed to "own" all the "stations" in a community and to compete with the local cable, satellite, etc.

As an old-time broadcaster since the 1960s, let me add a hearty endorsement of their right to own all the "stations" they want. They can have all the bricks, mortar and equipment they desire. However, they need to be reminded that the broadcast spectrum belongs to the American public and to the people and the communities of license. Private interests don't own the slice of spectrum; they are granted as a public trust.

If you can show me how allowing a monopoly licensing in a market or a community would serve its community in a responsible way, I would be most attentive.

Spectrum needs to be managed in "the public interest." I can promise you, neither Mike nor Mark have the public interest at heart when they are trying to find ways of "monetizing" their licenses. Spectrum is not private property, and it should never be treated that way. Like public lands and parks, it belongs to all of us, not just the marketers and business world.

Mike and Mark agreed that, "If a single operator controlled the entire band in a community, that operator would be able to re-farm the spectrum ... using it much more efficiently and creating many new services."

I doubt that would be the result. Monopolies are usually good for only one entity, the monopoly itself. New "services" for "consumers" is not the same thing as more interesting and useful content for "listeners." Diversity of opinion, localism and a rich palette of content are more important to the "public interest" than improving competitive positions for rival commercial media sectors.

Robert Simmons
Austin, Texas


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