Monday, June 24, 2002

Getting it exactly wrong I'd like to say that nonsense like this ridiculous spiel that draws parallels between radio and the Internet are rare, but they're common as muck. The article calls foul because Congress declared radio airwaves to be used for "public interest, necessity and convenience" and then dished them out to commercial entities instead of nonprofits.

Typically, the author does not realize that the "public interest, necessity and convenience" regime itself guaranteed public harm by having government decide how spectrum was to be used, instead of markets. Radio spectrum should have been auctioned off to the highest bidder, ensuring the public is justly compensated for private use of its property, and that the resource would go to whomever could use it best. If nonprofits wanted to cough up the dough, they'd be free to do so just like everyone else.

The entire notion of "public interest, necessity and convenience" came from New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann 285 U.S. 262 (1932) where an incumbent ice company successfully blocked an entrant claiming that any resulting competition would be "ruinous." My professor, Randal Picker, felt there was some validity to this claim, but it's bogus. (via Archipeligo)


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