FOR RELEASE: May 2, 2011

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute

Arlington, Va., May 2, 2011 – The concept that the public owns the airwaves – particularly as it concerns the authority and mission of the FCC – is “a mischievous notion that has been misused as a rationalization for government regulation,” argues veteran communications attorney Erwin  G. Krasnow in a new Speaking Freely opinion paper released today.

“Indeed, the public-ownership notion is the main reason for broadcasting’s second-class status under the First Amendment,” Krasnow states.  It is time for the FCC to renounce this “discredited concept,” he urges.

Krasnow says it is also time to bury the scarcity rationale, citing a 2006 FCC Media Bureau paper that found the rationale invalid “based on fundamental misunderstandings of physics and economics, efficient resource allocation, and technology.”

The combination of public ownership and scarcity has been the underlying reason for applying a public-interest standard to broadcast regulation.  It’s time to replace that content regulation with a public-interest standard based on minimally regulated marketplace forces, Krasnow states.

Krasnow’s paper, “The  First Amendment and the Fallacy of the Public’s Airwaves,” is the latest in the Speaking Freely series published jointly by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, Va., and The Media Institute in Arlington, Va.

Krasnow is a partner in the law firm of Garvey Schubert Barer in Washington, D.C.  He is a former general counsel of the National Association of Broadcasters and the co-auathor of The Politics of Broadcasting Regulation (3rd edition).

“The  First Amendment and the Fallacy of the Public’s Airwaves” is available from both organizations in hard copy and on their websites: and