—I got an email from
Preston Padden just
before the Consumer
which editors are
warned to refer to as “International CES,”
because branding is now so pervasive
that speaking plainly is mistaken for
Branding generally is part of a campaign to
shape pubic perception, not merely opinion.
An opinion is derived mental rigor applied to
perceptions. One hopes.
So Mr. Padden, former president of ABC,
picked up on something continuously repeated
in the campaign to discredit broadcasters:
“On PBS ‘Communicators’ last weekend,
CEA’s Gary Shapiro argued that TV
broadcasters got their spectrum for free.
In fact, 90 percent of today’s full power TV
broadcasters bought their spectrum in a
secondary marketplace that was supervised by
the FCC, and a substantial percentage of the
proceeds went to the IRS. For example, Disney
paid $19 billion for ABC.
“Also of interest is that the cellular
companies that are now AT&T and Verizon got
their initial cellular spectrum for free and still
have it. Similarly, DirectTV and Dish got their
initial satellite spectrum for free.
“Later the FCC switched to lotteries and
Now Mr. Padden is not agenda-free. He’s
working with broadcasters interested in selling
their spectrum in next year’s incentive auction.
Mr. Shapiro’s meme isn’t conducive to driving
up bids. It is, however, in Mr. Shapiro’s
members’ interest to drive down prices
because they’ll be bidding.
See how that works? Of course you do.
Mr. Shapiro’s meme has been ear-worming
the press since before the National Broadband
Plan dropped in 2010, but that’s when it took
on a whole new vigor. I asked Mr. Padden
where he’s been.
“I was motivated to make these points by
reading of the CEA president’s complaints
that broadcasters got their spectrum for
free. It is just not true for most of today’s
TV broadcasters. Verizon, AT&T, Dish and
DirecTV—all of whom did get free spectrum;
in the case of Verizon and AT&T it was
predecessor companies such as Nynex, Bell
Atlantic and Southwestern Bell—[and] all are