Telcos have done more to repeal and circumvent public interest obligations than any other industry. Leveraging their 4g bandwidth to relay television sounds suspiciously familiar. It’s worth keeping in mind that AT&T once had the monopoly on national radio broadcasting, since the early radio networks had to rely on AT&T’s control of telephone lines as relays between city transmitters. As the network provider, the phone company has always leveraged it’s power to be the main player in broadcasting. And it was AT&T who dramatically altered the original Communications Act, fending off widespread support for ‘real’ public interest spectrum set-asides with their model of ’selling airtime’ which they sold to regulators as a more democratic solution to radio bandwidth scarcity. The commercial concept of ‘buying time’ is something we can thank/blame AT&T for - and it has altered the paradigm of mass communications in the US ever since.
I recommend reading Erik Barnouw for a thorough history of US broadcasting.
- Posted by Michael Eisenmenger for USTV Media
Update: On a related note, there is a new study just released from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which states that broadcast and cable networks donate 17 seconds an hour to airing free public service announcements. That represents one half of 1 percent of all television programming. For local charities from 2000 to 2005, ads decreased on broadcast stations from 33 percent to 26 percent and on cable stations from 20 percent to 6 percent.