Hazlett on the 80th Anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission Oct 22, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission was established by an act of Congress in 1934. On the 80th anniversary of the Communications Act, the November 2014 issue of The Review of Industrial Organization looks back at the landmark legislation and ahead to the future of broadcast regulation. The journal features an article by Thomas Hazlett, "The Rationality of U.S. Regulation of the Broadcast Spectrum in the 1934 Communications Act."

Hazlett's paper is available online now, and will be in print later this fall. Here is the abstract:

The Federal Radio Commission regulated radio broadcasting, 1927–1934. With the passage of the Communications Act of 1934, the 1927 Radio Act (enabling the Commission) was re-enacted in whole and incorporated into a new Federal Communications Commission with broader regulatory authority. This congressional endorsement yields key evidence as to what policy outcomes were intended, differentiating competing theories for the origins of spectrum allocation law: Coase (J Law Econ 2(1):1–40, 1959), emphasizing policy error; Hazlett (J Law Econ 33:133–175, 1990), focusing on “franchise rents” in a public choice framework; and the “public interest” hypothesis, reconstructed by Moss and Fein (J Policy Hist 15(4):389–416, 2003). Congress’ revealed preferences prove consistent with the franchise rents theory, while contradicting the other two.