A Must-Read Article and Must-See Video: The End of Broadcast

Mar 15, 2010  •  Post A Comment

Our good friend Harry Jessell, who runs the editorial at TVNewsCheck and who, for many years was a reporter and then the editor who ran B&C, unearthed an important video the other day that everyone connected with TV should watch, regardless if you’re in broadcast, cable, satellite, advertising, and in any capacity in these related TV industries.

It’s a speech that former Federal Communications Commissioner Reed Hundt delivered at Columbia University. As Jessell says, Hundt "candidly talks about his decision to promote the Internet over broadcasting as the one and only "common medium" for the United States while he was chairman of the FCC between 1994 and 1997, and how his work then will culminate…when the current FCC under his protégé Julius Genachowski unveils the National Broadband Plan [on Wednesday, March 17th.]"

As Jessell notes, Hundt says in the speech, this broadband plan "will reflect … the end of the era of trying to maintain over-the-air broadcast as the common medium and the beginning of a very detailed, quite substantive, commitment to having broadband, the son of narrowband, be the common medium."

Furthermore, Hundt says,  the "broadband plan will have in it a specific pathway to shrinking the amount of spectrum that broadcast will be able to use. In all previous eras, the government has expanded the spectrum for broadcast so as to give it a chance to thrive as it moved from analog to digital. Now, it’s going to be moving in reverse."

To read Jessell’s excellent commentary in its entirety, click here. [You may be asked to register.] To see the video of Hundt’s speech, click here. Under the video you’ll see a little blue arrow that you need to click on to start the video. [The speech lasts about 45 minutes, but it’s must-see. Hundt comes on after 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the video. Lots of traffic sometimes affects this video, so if you have problems at first gettin it to work, try again later.]

Another good thought-provoking piece on this issue of National Broadband is one by David Murphy at PCMag.com entitled "Who Hates the National Broadband Plan. Click here to read it.


  1. Corporations and taxpayers paid billions of dollars so that TV stations could have expanded bandwidth when they went digital, and all commercial broadcasters are putting on their extra channels is weather, reruns and more infomercials. Guess what: if you’re not going to use the extra bandwidth to provide programming and community service, you might have to give it up.

  2. My point, exactly, anonymous commenter. I’ve been saying for a while that broadcasters are really missing the boat with the digital channels. There is so much potential there not just for viewing options for the public but for revenue generation that is just being flushed away every day the stations just ignore the potential. PBS stations seem to have a decent handle on the potential, creating a great option to having something like Discovery Channel if you refuse to have cable or satellite. I’m fortunate to be in a spot where I can get PBS affiliates from 2 different markets that made very different decisions on how to program their digital subchannels. One chose to just stick with PBS created channels, like Create, while the other runs MHZ international programming most of the day on it’s .2 channel, providing an excellent window on the world. PBS is usually good at that but the addition of MHZ just makes it better. Besides, I like the occasional K-drama. Leave it the Asians to perfect the US artform of the soap opera.
    I honestly believe that there is someone out there who will see the huge moneymaking potential of the digital sub-channels and they will make a fortune from it. Yes, the internet is going to be the main viewing & entertainment option but audiences still like that structured program schedule and in some cases random viewing that you only get from this kind of outlet. They may be watching a live stream of that channel via the internet but it will still be a stream of structured programming, not a strictly on-demand model.

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