The spaghetti logic of the NAB’s Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith is getting publicity today for a speech denouncing the term of former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (see TVNewsCheck). It’s actually a cheap attempt to lobby inbound FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (all right, that’s Mr. Smith’s job), but unless you have those “eyes to see,” you’ll take what he says here at face value, and that’s just a bad mistake.

What I find truly amazing is his use of the phrase “encourage further innovation and investment in broadcasting” in harping on Mr. Genachowski’s encouragement of innovation and investment in broadband. There isn’t even a whiff of innovation in the broadcast model. What Smith really wants is more of the same, especially a sign of encouragement from the FCC about continuing the broadcast money tree known as “retransmission consent fees,” fees, I should add, that increase the cost of cable everywhere.

Smith rebuked the “myopic” Genachowski FCC for doing whatever it could for wireless broadband, while ignoring broadcasting, despite all the public good that it does.

Last March after he announced his intention to leave the agency, Genachowski, Smith said, released a list of his accomplishments.

“It catalogued approximately 50 items, including proceedings undertaken and industry investments. What I found most notable about the list was that there was not a single accomplishment outside of the broadband realm. Not one.”

Look, let’s just assume that broadcasting fears broadband, because its flexible one-to-one model is proving tough competition for a model that is schedule-bound and one-to-many. Smith’s continued references to the “good” that broadcasters contribute to local communities are going to bite him in the ass one day, when efficient and flexible, mobile broadband emergency coverage proves it can outperform television stations. Not only is his logic a wad of interconnected spaghetti, it’s been in the water a little too long.

The unwillingness to actually innovate is what’s really killing broadcasting, and unless and until its mothership — the NAB — starts actually innovating, instead of basing its entire argument on an archaic paradigm, the industry is headed for the death of a thousand cuts.


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