- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2011

President Obama’s regulatory team is hurting U.S. competitiveness and slowing the growth of the economy because of its members’ lack of business experience, the head of the nation’s largest consumer electronics trade group said Monday.

Standing by recent comments that this is the “most anti-business administration in my lifetime,” Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro said the Obama administration is the first in his tenure not to actively support the trade group’s massive annual trade fair and is working to further restrict the right of administration employees to attend. “I challenge anyone, and no one’s ever answered me, to come up with a more anti-business administration.

“They’re doing things that are very harmful to the economy,” Mr. Shapiro told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, citing Mr. Obama’s policies on health care, labor relations and financial regulation. “They’re not bad people. They just have no experience with business. And that’s the frustration.”

Mr. Shapiro accused Mr. Obama of driving a mindset that “business is evil.” This has led corporate America to feel like “there’s not a sympathetic ear at all” in the White House.

“So, essentially, the White House has taken this position that business and government must be divorced totally,” Mr. Shapiro said. “It’s the ‘business is the enemy’ thinking.

“I don’t think that’s a healthy thing to do,” he added.

Meanwhile, the fight for spectrum between the wireless and broadcast industries continues.

Mr. Shapiro said wireless technology, or broadband, is an innovative industry of the future and deserves the space of the declining broadcast television industry.

“Almost everyone has radio or newspapers or a telephone,” he said. “Not getting TV service is really not important.”

But broadcasters say their systems are more efficient than wireless and are still important to millions of Americans who can’t afford cable television.

“The collateral damage for our television stations going forward would be catastrophic,” said Gordon H. Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Mr. Shapiro said viewers won’t lose broadcast TV altogether.

“You’re not going to lose your TV service, because there’s still going to be a few broadcasters in every market,” he said. “So it’s not like people are going to be disenfranchised.”

He said the wireless industry is growing with booming interest in devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Meanwhile, broadcasters have dropped to a 10 percent market share.

The government is “letting them squat on spectrum,” he said.

Mr. Shapiro advocates a voluntary auction of spectrum for broadcasters that want to sell to broadband companies. He estimates this could bring the government $31 billion in revenue.

Plenty of smaller broadcasters struggling to turn a profit will be more than happy to sell, he said.

“If you’re the second-tier broadcaster in New York City, right now, you’re not making that much money. You would get tremendous opportunity to make money in an auction.”

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