[opendtv] Re: Digital Trends: ESPN may pull its finger out of the Internet-TV dam, unleash a flood of change

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2014 15:32:28 -0500

> On Feb 5, 2014, at 12:41 PM, Mark Schubin <tvmark@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Craig, you seem to be ignoring the one thing I am questioning: your timeline, 
> i.e., the idea that it was the geographical-monopoly regulation of electric 
> power utilities that led to U.S. regulation of radio.
> Again, I am certainly no expert on the regulation of electrical utilities, 
> but I quickly found a Cato Institute paper on the subject: "A Historical 
> Perspective on Electric Utility Regulation" by R. Richard Geddes:
> http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/1992/1/v15n1-8.pdf

Thanks for providing this link. It roused a few dying brain cells...

The studies I looked at years ago focused mainly on the situation in New York 
and Chicago. This makes sense, as they are huge markets and the early electric 
power pioneers were butting heads in both cities. This corresponds with the 
article you linked to, which states that 1907 was a landmark year for municipal 
regulation, as a result of the passing of laws in Wisconsin and New York.

> According to the paper, early regulation of electrical utilities was by 
> municipalities, but they actually encouraged local competition. It was the 
> change to state regulation that established geographical monopolies.  The 
> paper notes two date ranges for the state regulation: "the early wave, 
> between 1912 and 1917, and those that adopted state regulation after 1917."

Yes, but the impetus was what happened in New York. Only 20% of U.S. Homes had 
electricity by 1920. 

The original DC power plant in St. Augustine was built in part to provide 
electricity to the Ponce de Leon hotel, by Henry Flagler, co founder of 
Standard Oil. This was one of the first buildings in the U.S. To have 

The power plant also contained a huge ice manufacturing facility - heat from 
power generation was used to run the ammonia based process for refrigeration. 
While the wealthy wintered at the hotel, the locals were able to afford an ice 
box refrigerator. The power plant is now home to a start-up craft distillery 
and a restaurant occupies the ice house.
> The "early wave" begins two years after the Wireless Ship Act and is 
> coincident with the regulation of radio by the Commerce Department under the 
> Radio Act of 1912.  Thus, the U.S. Federal government was regulating radio 
> before it could have used the regulation of electric utilities as a model.

As I pointed out to Bert, regulation is not the critical issue here. It is the 
use of regulation by governments to control markets, and in particular the 
power of government to create or support monopolies and oligopolies that is the 
important issue here, especially as it relates to the markets for TV content 
and distribution.
> That's all I've been pointing out.  Your timeline is flawed.

I think we are both in the ballpark.
> About whether some later government regulators chose to use anything as a 
> model you are certainly welcome to speculate.  The FCC has changed its mind 
> many times since 1934.

My response to Bert lays out my position on this. All I am saying is that the 
decision to regulate the electric power industry as a "natural monopoly," 
opened the door to increasing regulation of broadcasting and other industries. 
The critical role that the television medium plays in shaping public and 
political opinion has certainly been a major factor as well, both in the U.S. 
and around the world.

You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways:

- Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at 

- By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
unsubscribe in the subject line.

Other related posts: