from the smoke-mirrors-etc. dept
Plenty of broadcasters are still upset over the digital TV transition, in which they lost their analog spectrum rights — rights which they never had to pay for — as the FCC sought to reclaim it and put it towards more efficient and useful purposes. Getting the analog spectrum for free, and then having it replaced with the digital spectrum, again for free, was a massive government handout that’s formed the bedrock of broadcasters’ businesses. It’s a tradeoff that’s worked well: the broadcasters get the chance to make some money, and the public gets free over-the-air TV. But broadcasters are now looking for another handout, making noise that the FCC should mandate that every cell phone sold in the US have a digital TV receiver in it (via Ars Technica). It’s a great plan, according to broadcasters, because (of course) it will make us all safer. The TVs in every phone are apparently the best way to distribute information in case of public-safety emergencies, so we should all have them. Never mind, of course, that when there aren’t emergencies on, we can all tune in to great television programming brought to us by our totally altruistic broadcaster friends.
Apparently it’s a foolproof plan, because first, the FCC could mandate it (just like they took away the analog channels, we are reminded), and second, Americans replace their phones so frequently, that the life-saving feature could make its way into most of our phones within 5 years. One major oversight in the piece, though: there’s no mention of who’s going to pay for all of these tuners, which we’ll interpret to mean that it sure as hell won’t be the broadcasters who will conveniently then rely on them to help generate revenues. If the real interest here is public safety, why not mandate plain old radio receivers, which are much cheaper, and much more easily integrated into mobile phones? Maybe because public safety isn’t the real interest?