Why is the broadcast lobby palling around with Communists?

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is one of my least-favorite industry lobby groups. They claim to support issues like “Protecting the Rights of Journalists,” opposing “advertising restrictions,” and supporting a “competitive marketplace,” but in practice they’re purely a rent-seeking body, completely integrated with the regulatory-industrial complex.

There’s no easier way to see this than looking at NAB’s plans to engage with broadcasters in Cuba. No principle, all profit.


Politico’s quote of NAB is brief but telling: “‘This trip presents an extraordinary opportunity to open doors and facilitate future business opportunities for both Cuban broadcasters and U.S. suppliers in the media and entertainment industry,’ said [Margaret] Cassilly, NAB’s vice president VP of international programs.”

So NAB wants to rush into Cuba and make business deals with Cuban broadcasters. That’s great except that this goes against all of their listed principles. Cuban journalists have no rights. Cuban broadcasters have no free market: all broadcasters are state-run. And advertising restrictions? There is no free speech at all in Cuba, for commercial or political activity.

Just check up on the ICRT, Cuba’s central body for television and radio. It’s simply remarkable how there’s absolutely nothing bad to say about the Communists anywhere on Cuban television, isn’t it?

But sure, NAB is going to make business deals, extract profits, and give the American business stamp of legitimacy on the Cuban Communist apparatus of tyranny. We’ve come a long way from the Voice of America.

So the next time NAB tells us about how we need this or that regulation for some high minded purpose, remember that there are no high-minded purposes at NAB. Beware big business: their interests are not our own. They’re perfectly fine with regulation, big government, or even Communist tyranny, as long as they get theirs.

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