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Do we need broadcast licensing?

phattonez

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Herbert Hoover said:
One of our troubles in getting legislation [to nationalize the airwaves] was the very success of the voluntary system we had created. Members of the Congressional committees kept saying, 'it is working well, so why bother?
The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, 1952

Another common objection to private property in the broadcast media is that private stations would interfere with each other's broadcasts, and that such widespread interference would virtually prevent any programs from being heard or seen. But this is as absurd an argument for nationalizing the airwaves as claiming that since people can drive their cars over other people's land this means that all cars — or land — must be nationalized. The problem, in either case, is for the courts to [p. 101] demarcate property titles carefully enough so that any invasion of another's property will be clear-cut and subject to prosecution. In the case of land titles, this process is clear enough. But the point is that the courts can apply a similar process of staking out property rights in other areas — whether it be in airwaves, in water, or in oil pools. In the case of airwaves, the task is to find the technological unit — i.e., the place of transmission, the distance of the wave, and the technological width of a clear channel — and then to allocate property rights to this particular technological unit. If radio station WXYZ, for example, is assigned a property right in broadcasting on 1500 kilocycles, plus or minus a certain width of kilocycles, for 200 miles around Detroit, then any station which subsequently beams a program into the Detroit area on this wavelength would be subject to prosecution for interference with property rights. If the courts pursue their task of demarking and defending property rights, then there is no more reason to expect continual invasions of such rights in this area than anywhere else.

Most people believe that this is precisely the reason the airwaves were nationalized; that before the Radio Act of 1927, stations interfered with each other's signals and chaos ensued, and the federal government was finally forced to step in to bring order and make a radio industry feasible at last. But this is historical legend, not fact. The actual history is precisely the opposite. For when interference on the same channel began to occur, the injured party took the airwave aggressors into court, and the courts were beginning to bring order out of the chaos by very successfully applying the common law theory of property rights — in very many ways similar to the libertarian theory — to this new technological area. In short, the courts were beginning to assign property rights in the airwaves to their "homesteading" users. It was after the federal government saw the likelihood of this new extension of private property that it rushed in to nationalize the airwaves, using alleged chaos as the excuse.
Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto

So is the FCC really necessary? Why can't the courts just handle it?
 

Deuce

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The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, 1952



Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto

So is the FCC really necessary? Why can't the courts just handle it?
Courts take months to years and thousands and thousands of dollars. A larger company with better financial backing could just step in, build a bigger transmitter, and wait until the competition folds from complete lack of revenue. (wont take long, a station that can't advertise isn't making a dime)
 

Councilman

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Back when I first went into Radio I was required pass tests before I could be either a disk jokey or on air news reporter and the air waves were a much better place and there was no hint of the vulgarity that floods both radio and TV today.

The FCC has a place but it needs to be very limited in scope. I have no problem with rules that keep vulgarity the likes of Howard Stearn under control and to prohibit the use of some words.

However when it comes to the FCC trying to control political content as has been outlined by Obama appointees that's right out.

Only under Marxist/Communist and dictatorships is control of political content controlled.

Obama already has virtual control over more than 90% of TV news and it left wing influence goes into TV talk,and comedy shows as well. The only thing that is not actively push Obama propaganda is Conservative talk radio and that's because Liberal talk radio is boring and the content lacks imagination and intelligence. That's why we were able to defeat them in the ratings so badly they were forced off the air.
 

samsmart

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I want to keep the FCC around for it's licensing authority but take away all of it's censorship powers.

I despise pirate stations, but have no problem with vulgarity and obscenity being aired.
 

PeteEU

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Easy answer.. yes. The broadcast spectrum is limited and if we want a system that is safe and usable, then we need to license out the airwaves. The market can not do this fairly, safely and quickly enough.
 

Deuce

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But that isn't what happened, apparently.
No, because the Feds stepped in before things really picked up. Before 1927, there weren't many radio stations going up yet, so competition wasn't really necessary. The civil court system also was not nearly as sluggish.

In NYC, though, the FM band is completely saturated. Today, civil cases involving major companies can take many months or even years to resolve.
 

phattonez

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No, because the Feds stepped in before things really picked up. Before 1927, there weren't many radio stations going up yet, so competition wasn't really necessary. The civil court system also was not nearly as sluggish.
But where is the evidence of this huge problem, this great chaos? It worked fine before, so why can we not apply the principle of homesteading to broadcast rights?

In NYC, though, the FM band is completely saturated. Today, civil cases involving major companies can take many months or even years to resolve.
You realize that there are frequencies that are not even available for use today because of FCC regulations?
 

phattonez

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Easy answer.. yes. The broadcast spectrum is limited and if we want a system that is safe and usable, then we need to license out the airwaves. The market can not do this fairly, safely and quickly enough.
Based on what?
 

PeteEU

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Based on what?
Based on logic. If there were no rules for broadcasting frequencies, then the airwaves would be filled up with signals that were in conflict with each other. There is a limited spectrum that can be used, and if there were no rules, then everything from cell phones, military communications, police/fire communications, television, radio and in shorter ranges, even medical equipment like pace makers and so on, would be at risk. Add to that national borders.. not having an agreement on what frequencies to use, would basically mean that there was a large risk that wireless communications in border regions would be effected. The market has no mechanism what so ever to deal with this, and that is why a national authority is needed with rules to make sure that the airwaves are working with no conflicts and can negotiate with other nations so that there are no conflicts along borders.
 

phattonez

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Based on logic. If there were no rules for broadcasting frequencies, then the airwaves would be filled up with signals that were in conflict with each other. There is a limited spectrum that can be used, and if there were no rules, then everything from cell phones, military communications, police/fire communications, television, radio and in shorter ranges, even medical equipment like pace makers and so on, would be at risk. Add to that national borders.. not having an agreement on what frequencies to use, would basically mean that there was a large risk that wireless communications in border regions would be effected. The market has no mechanism what so ever to deal with this, and that is why a national authority is needed with rules to make sure that the airwaves are working with no conflicts and can negotiate with other nations so that there are no conflicts along borders.
Don't courts rule about this all the time when it comes to land disputes? Why would it be any different here?
 

Ikari

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