Monthly Archives: February 2012

An Auction or a Giveaway?

By Chris Daly

Let me see if  I have this right:

The Federal Communications Commission is planning to hold an auction to sell off chunks of bandwidth in the electromagnetic spectrum. Specifically, the FCC is proposing to sell off the segment that was used for decades by television broadcasters, in the era when they sent their signals through the air (or through the “ether,” as an earlier generation referred to it) and their viewers pulled those signals out of the air with set-top or roof-top antennas.

That seems like a fine idea.

The part I don’t get is this: As I explain in my new book, Covering America, (see chapter 7), the FCC was established in 1927 to represent the interests of the American people as a whole.

The idea was that the American people had an undivided ownership stake in the spectrum and that they therefore needed a way to manage it for the public benefit. In its early years, the FCC designated certain frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum for radio transmissions; after WWII, the agency did the same for television. In doing so, the FCC essentially gave broadcasters that precious public resource.

Now, the broadcasters want to be reimbursed for their “loss” of the spectrum that they have been using for free for decades — never mind that they never owned it.

Today’s Times front-page story puts it this way:

The measure would be a rare instance of the government compensating private companies with the proceeds from an auction of public property — broadcast licenses — once given free.

 So, it appears that it is going to cost the American people something close to $2 billion to get back something that belonged to them all along. That sounds like a shake-down to me.




1 Comment

Filed under broadcasting

Fight Fiercely, Jeremy!

I know that I have called for the abolition of the NCAA, which provided the “sporting green” for Jeremy Lin to develop his hoop skills while an undergraduate at Harvard. But what’s done is done. He graduated, scrapped his way into the NBA, rode some pine, and now he is TEARING THE JOINT APART!


Last night, he out-played Kobe Bryant. How good can he get?


I am now officially on the bandwagon.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


By Chris Daly

I know that I have declared my intention not to take overtly partisan or ideological positions here (and not to spike the football, either). But this just had to be said.

Thanks to Tom Keane in today’s Globe for pointing out that the decisions made by generations of crazy liberals here in Massachusetts have produced unambiguously good results. No reason why Mitt Romney should run away from success, but that’s up to him.

The takeaway:

By almost every important factual measure — economic, educational, and socioeconomic — Massachusetts is vastly better off than the nation’s most right-wing states.

For details, see the rest of his piece.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Powerful photo

By Chris Daly

From the New York Times comes this powerful photo by photographer Andrea Bruce. It is lit almost like a Caravaggio painting, with its dramatic chiaroscuro. The lighting that falls on the averted face at the lower right adds, if it is possible, to the poignancy of the scene. (The original caption read: “In Grip of Cold, Afghan Family Mourns Death of 8th Child: The mother of Khan Mohammad, a 3-month-0ld boy who died because of exposure, in a camp in Kabul, Afghanistan.)

At the same time that this photo captures a pitiful human tragedy, it also raises questions that go right to the heart of the big policy questions: What are we doing in Afghanistan anyway? After 10 years of involvement, why do babies freeze to death? If we are that ineffective, then leave. If it is just helpless no matter who intervenes, then leave. If al Qaeda is busted up and bin Laden is dead, then leave.

New York Times/ Andrea Bruce

Leave a comment

Filed under Journalism

Why I left the Catholic Church

Because of guys like this:

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Good point

Nick Bilton asks: Where is his share of the value he has helped to create in Facebook by using it?

The essential value of the company is users. No users = no Facebook. So, in that sense the users are both the employees and the shareholders, no?

Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News.

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at a Facebook conference last September.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Murdoch’s dream

By Chris Daly 

Rupert Murdoch had a dream.

Unlike you or me, he is in a position to spend millions making his dreams come true. According to today’s Times, Murdoch is making headway with his online-only, tablet-only news outlet, The Daily. He has something like 100,000 subscribers, many of them in the heartland. So, that’s a start.

I have to admit that I am not familiar with it, because Murdoch charges for access and because any money I would spend on it (even in the name of research) would end up in his pocket. So, I won’t subscribe. I don’t want you to subscribe either, I just want you to know about it.




Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, Journalism