The Wasteland: Anticommons, White Spaces, and the Fallacy of Spectrum

53 Ariz. L. Rev. 213 (2011). Kevin Werbach, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics.

“I urge you, I urge you to put the people’s airwaves to the service of the people and the cause of freedom. You must help prepare a generation for great decisions. You must help a great nation fulfill its future. Do this! I pledge you our help.”1 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Newton Minow’s 1961 address to the National Association of Broadcasters is legendary for its caustic dismissal of television as a “vast wasteland.”2 Yet Minow intended to emphasize a different two-word phrase: “public interest.”3 Television was the most prominent use of “the people’s airwaves” — the government-defined capacity for wireless communication — and it was failing to serve national interests.


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