The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later: The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters in Perfect Hindsight, A mini-conference • Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m. National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC
Transcript / Prepared by IEP Staff (not exact but close to verbatim)
Our next guest is a person with intimate knowledge, of course, of the Gore Commission, he was co-chair of that commission. Norm Ornstein, is a well-known political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute. And we are delighted that he’s here to share his knowledge and viewpoint with ten years of perfect hindsight looking back now. We are delighted that he’s here, not just because he’s Norm Ornstein, but because he flew in from St. Louis this morning and he was supposed to get here on time, so we assumed of course that he would not be here on time, but he’s right here on cue, so thanks very much for making that effort for us Norm.
Thanks Tom, and thanks for doing this and actually providing me with an occasion, an opportunity to think back to a topic I haven’t thought about in a while. I’m especially delighted to be here with Gigi, an extraordinarily extraordinarily instructive passionate about what she believes and also very pragmatic. Let me just start first with one observation and it’s sobering when you think back at where technology was ten years ago and where it is today and realizing the dizzying pace of change has. It is certainly true that we’re thinking about spending. And how much in many ways we underestimate how quickly things could change.
It’s certainly true that when we were thinking about spectrum, when we were thinking about an information super highway which at that point had a substantial number of lanes going across the traditional highway model, we actually talked quite a lot about how we’re entering the Jetson age or for those of us who’ve seen the Fifth Element, where you have layers of flying taxis and cars going across not quite an infinite number, but a very large number and how that was going to change everything. That we would reach something reasonably close to that model at this point was not what we anticipated.
At the same time, I remember vividly having one of the experts from Forrester Research talking about the penetration that digital television would have. And how long it would take, and they had these models and how prices would be so high and take so long for them to come down, that completely underestimated what would happen once a small number of people went into a bar, saw a high definition television with football or golf and would go home and say get me one of those. Or that the technology of the computer age would move so rapidly to reduce the prices and change the technology to get such high quality, high definition television out there. And I think that’s a useful, sobering thought to have as we look ahead, because that really means almost anything we talk about today is going to change very radically within the next decade, and that means there will be no model forever, no model perhaps lasting ten years from now will be in a very different spot than today….