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“Linear TV is … marching towards a great precipice and is going to be be pushed off,” Bob Iger said at a Los Angeles conference last September. “I can’t tell you when, but it goes away.”
Not exactly what you want to hear about broadcasting and its enablers, cable and satellite, from the once and again Disney CEO who has deep roots in broadcasting and who, among much else, still oversees ABC and its string of fine TV stations.
Let’s face it. Bob has a point. Somewhere out there is a cliff and streaming TV is pushing broadcasting toward it, although I think it is farther away that Bob implied.
But I come today not to alarm, but to reassure.
Should the business of producing news and selling spots go over the edge, all will not be lost. Broadcasters have something that will soften the fall — their spectrum.
Like concrete, steel and plastic, spectrum is one of the fundamental ingredients of modern civilization. Demand for it from wireless carriers and others only grows and, consequently, so does its value.
If broadcasting as a TV medium falters, broadcasters should be able monetize their spectrum and tap that value in at least two non-broadcasting ways. They can repurpose it for datacasting or they can auction it off to the highest bidder.
Datacasting got off to a rough start back in the early oughts when the broadcasters began making the switch to