Television executives plead poverty when they explain why they need cash from cable companies that retransmit the programs stations broadcast for free. But the industry seems to make a miraculous recovery when the topic changes to the FCC’s effort to coax stations to give up their airwave spectrum so it can be redeployed for wireless broadband. A new study commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters says that commercial TV and radio stations accounted for $1.17 trillion of last year’s Gross Domestic Product. Only about $59.3 billion of that is from direct spending on TV and radio — the rest comes from estimates of the ripple effects and stimulative effects stations had on the overall economy. The study also says that TV and radio accounted for 2.5 million jobs. Here, too, only 305,230 were directly tied to TV and radio companies. Others were in industries that benefited from broadcasters including advertising, telecommunications, public utilities, manufacturing and retail. The study, prepared by Woods & Poole Economics, says that commercial TV and radio should see revenues grow through 2015.

The NAB makes no secret of its agenda: “Decision-makers now debating spectrum policies need to be cognizant of the millions of people and thousands of businesses reliant on the unparalleled impact of local TV and radio for economic survival,” says NAB chief Gordon Smith.

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