The end of TV as we know it?

America’s 350 public TV stations have made a stunning proposal. They would like to give their analog broadcast licenses back to the government by 2006. While viewers would continue watching public TV via digital broadcasts, cable or satellite, public stations would save $36 million a year on electricity.

But our government says no:

The FCC requires TV licensees to simulcast both analog and digital signals at least through 2006, but transition booby-traps inserted in the 1997 Budget Act will stretch the process years beyond. They require that before analog signals are turned off in a market, 85 percent of local households have to be equipped with digital off-air reception capability. Arcane details make this mission impossible; even if every home received local broadcasts over cable, the 85 percent threshold would not be met under any likely scenario.

And why is the government wrong?

Allowing the TV band to be tied up for another decade ignores the enormous social value of spectrum. Wireless networks could productively use the frequencies to expand and improve cellular service, with added airspace dramatically decreasing costs. Entrepreneurs lust for access to the rich VHF and UHF frequencies to unleash mobile Internet-based applications offering consumers a cornucopia of fresh choices for voice, data, video and applications yet to be dreamed.

Read the full analysis by Tom Hazlett. And write your congressman to get rid of TV as we know it.


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