Marv Rosenberg is testimony to staying put. During nearly 40 years as a Washington attorney, he has worked with some of the most innovative minds in broadcasting. As a result, he found himself a proud parent on the day the FCC authorized licenses for direct-broadcast satellite, birthing a new industry. He has remained proud, and involved, as DBS has grown into a formidable competitor to cable.
Almost since the day he arrived at Spearman & Roberson—now Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth—Rosenberg, then 27, has worked for broadcast pioneer Stanley S. Hubbard, patriarch of Hubbard Broadcasting, and his sons.
Hubbard says that, as soon as he met Rosenberg, he knew the young and inexperienced lawyer was someone he could trust. Rosenberg, he adds, was a "key factor" in helping him develop the first successful independent UHF station, in Tampa, Fla., in 1968. Then, in 1983, Rosenberg put together one of the first FCC applications for the launch of a DBS service.
Hubbard decided to go ahead with the idea after Satellite Television Corp., then a subsidiary of Communications Satellite (Comsat) Corp., filed an application. Rosenberg told him, Hubbard recalls, that "the day of protectionism for broadcasters was over and that the request to go forward would be granted."
At the broadcaster's behest, Rosenberg filed an application for what became, more than 10 years later, United States Satellite Broadcasting.
Rosenberg has also represented Jim Goodmon and Raleigh, N.C.-based Capital Broadcasting for years. Goodmon built the first television station dedicated to broadcasting in high definition and tried to launch a satellite service to deliver local TV stations via satellite to all 210 TV markets. That idea eventually folded, particularly with the possible merger of EchoStar Communications Corp. and Hughes Electronics, but Rosenberg spent a lot of time lobbying for it.
"Stan Hubbard and Jim Goodmon, these are not your run-of-the-mill people," Rosenberg says. "They are strong individuals who look at broadcasting as a public-interest obligation."
Involvement with such people and projects turned Rosenberg into a Washingtonian-for-life. The Erie, Pa., native arrived in Washington in 1958 to attend Georgetown University Law Center and, after an army stint, returned there, having a job offer from the IRS. Georgetown's placement director, however, suggested he look into private practice.
He recalls interviewing at Spearman & Roberson, where he would spend the next 32 years: "I remember feeling like a small-town kid. They had a client in the office that day, and everyone was telling him how good his daughter's picture looked on the cover of Look
magazine. That client was Joan Kennedy's father."
Spearman & Roberson made him an offer, and he thought: "It's more money than the government is paying, so why not try it?
"All these years later, I'm still trying it."
He's still getting involved in high-tech projects, too. His latest is with a company called Sky Tower Inc., which has developed a solar-powered, remote-controlled aircraft that flies at super-high altitudes. Recently, the plane set a record flying at 98,000 feet.
Sky Tower has applied to the FCC to use the aircraft to deliver multichannel television and high-speed data. The company would position planes at 60,000 feet above population centers and power them to fly at the same speed as the earth's orbit.
"It could act as a tower in the sky and act similarly to a satellite," Rosenberg says. "It's less expensive than a satellite, doesn't require the launch costs and is easy to replace."
So he's still doing what he loves: working with progressive clients on new technology. "It's really made it fascinating it to me over the years. I have been fortunate in terms of having those kinds of clients and those kinds of opportunities."