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New FCC Adviser is a Broadcast Blaster

WASHINGTON: Much ado is being made of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s recent appointment of Duke University Professor Stuart Benjamin as the agency’s first Distinguished Scholar in Residence. The former Supreme Court law clerk will work at the commission on spectrum reform, the agency’s euphemism for reallocating broadcast TV spectrum for wireless broadband.

Reports emerged over the weekend high-lighting Benjamin’s bias against the broadcast industry. In a paper entitled “Roasting the Pig to Burn Down the House: A modest Proposal,” Benjamin endorses enforcing deleterious regulations on broadcasters to run them out of business and free up the radio frequency spectrum.

“...we should support new regulations that will make broadcasting unprofitable, to hasten its demise. But it cannot be just any costly regulation: if a regulation would tend to entrench broadcasting’s place on the airwaves, then the regulation will not help to free up the spectrum and should be avoided. Ideal regulations for this purpose are probably those that are pure deadweight loss--regulations that cost broadcasters significant amounts of money but have no impact on their behavior. Am I serious in writing all this? Not entirely, but mostly.”

“I would prefer not to go down this path,” Benjamin writes, “but if that is the only way to hasten the shriveling of television broadcasting’s spectrum usage, then it is probably a path worth taking.”

TVNewsCheck’s Harry Jessell dubbed Benjamin as the FCC’s “broadcast TV hitman.” His editorial, and Benjamin’s 13-page “Roasting the Pig” paper is at