Paul Aiken, Executive Director, The Authors Guild; Steven Brill, Co-founder, Press+; Edward Lazarus, Chief of Staff for the Chairman, FCC; Tim Wu, Professor, Columbia Law School; Cecilia Kang, Writer, The Washington Post, Moderator.

Tim Wu: spectrum is one of the big outer limits and spectrum policy is a huge problem. Not a technology problem but a political problem. WiFi was opened up for garage door openers and baby monitors and it ended up being useful for all sorts of stuff. Opening spectrum for new uses is purely a political issue. Problem with content on tablets is that it is not clear what you are actually buying – DRM for example. Need a real multi-platform technology for the content and if don’t have it will end up with a monopoly in the end.

Steven Brill: some content providers are becoming obsessed with tablets as somehow different from browsers and are willing to charge for tablet content but not browser content. In fact consumers will use multiple devices and will not discriminate that way. In one sense tablets are a breakthrough because it is one way to get people who were trained to get internet stuff for free to become accustomed to paying for content, as people seem to be willing to pay for iPad content. However, numbers who will subscribe to tablet content will probably pretty small.

Edward Lazarus: facing looming spectrum crisis. Spectrum issues today are a result of investment. Know that 3 times as much spectrum coming on line as was available in the past, but spectrum use is going to rise 30 times. Essential to get more spectrum for wireless and are no easy pickings on the spectrum chart. Will be hard to do. Have to get more efficient spectrum usage because spectrum is finite. Need to get started quickly because reallocating spectrum will take 3 to 5 years.


  1. I’m not sure that the number of people who will pay for content via tablets (Or other connected devices) *will* be small.
    It might be a fraction of the people getting it *now* for free via browser-and-ads, but I suspect that it will be significant and profitable, much as cable vis-a-vis broadcast TV.
    Over time content providers will probably come up with a feature set and pricing combo that strikes a good value and makes sense for customers and providers. At that point, browser based content will start to erode away, just as broadcast viewership has been eroding for decades.
    Main thing to consider is that not everbody that uses/consumes/sample free content is a real customer. Some would rather do without than pay.
    But, most people aren’t inherently opposed to paying for content; they’re just opposed to paying for poor, ad-infested material. Or paying twice (in ads *and* in subscription fees).

    I think a lot of the magazine publishers are going to have to take a good long look at Consumer Reports’s business model and decide if they and their audience can live with subscription fees alone. And if not, how much value can they offer above what the ads can pay for. If the subscription content doesn’t offer clear value over the ad-supported competitors *then* they’ll have a problem.

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