Kathy Shaidle

FCC ‘Scholar in Residence’ (!?) Wants to ‘Hasten the Demise of Broadcasting’ (?!)

Posted on December 22 2009 12:00 pm
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."
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Does the Pentagon employ a “scholar in residence” who advocates unilateral disarmament?

No, but would you really be surprised if they did?

Anyway: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — the people who brought you Mark Lloyd —  really has just hired “scholar in residence” Stuart Benjamin, who looks forward to “the demise of broadcasting.” You think I’m kidding.

In May, Benjamin penned an academic paper called “Roasting the Pig to Burn Down the House: A Modest Proposal”.

(Now, that “modest proposal” bit is Benjamin’s limp gesture towards plausible denial. When confronted by outraged critics, he can shrug and snort, “Please!  I was just kidding. Sheesh, don’t you ‘get’ my fancy literary reference? Dummies.”

(Gather ’round, kiddies. Your old Auntie Kathy’s got a big life lesson for y’all: No one is ever “just kidding.” Stitch that into a sampler if you have to. It’s saved me years of heartache. You’re welcome.)

Anyhow, Benjamin’s critics are outraged, all right. Here’s industry insider Harry A. Jessell:

Benjamin first makes the argument that we’ve heard elsewhere: Broadcasting is an inefficient use of spectrum because most people (he says 14 percent of homes) no longer receive broadcast signals off air, but rather get them via cable or satellite. Taking back the spectrum and auctioning it would generate “hundreds of billions of dollars” in revenue for the government and put it to better use. (…)

Rather than just sit around and watch broadcasting die, Benjamin says the FCC should begin factoring into all its thinking on new broadcast regulations what impact they will have on the viability of broadcasting.

More to the point, the FCC should favor regulations that have the extra benefit of burdening broadcasters with extra costs and speeding their demise.

“Every dollar of additional costs for broadcasters is one less dollar of profit, and thus reduces the attractiveness of over-the-air broadcasting as a business model,” he says. (…)

Benjamin sees increasing the amount of required children’s programming from three to 15-20 hours per week as a “win-win” for the FCC.

“There will be tons more programming aimed at educating children, and it will reduce the viewership of broadcasting and thus hasten the demise of broadcasting.”

Jessell adds:

Benjamin’s presence at the FCC can only be seen as another strong signal that [FCC Chairman Julius] Genachowski is determined to take away broadcast spectrum and make it available for broadband use.

It should also alert broadcasters that whatever new regulations spew forth from the commission may be partially motivated by a desire to kill them off.

But remember, rubes: The FCC has NO desire to bring back the Fairness Doctrine or censor conservative talk radio! That’s crazy talk!

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