Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Free Market and Public Interest

On February 7 I will be giving a presentation on media law and policy, specifically about how it relates to neoclassical economics. I will examine the 1996 Telecommunications Act and how it redefined public interest as "competition", and then give reasons why deregulation might not be in the public interest with regards to the media industry.
In order to provide context, I will first look at the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was intended to be a pro-competitive act. I will then talk about the idea of market failures and what causes them: market power [AT&T as a natural monopoly], externalities, and common and public goods, and how each type of market failure can happen in the media industry and provide economic reasons for government intervention. I will examine whether the current regulatory scheme under the '96 TCA even resembles the free market to begin with, and finally examine social justifications for placing restrictions upon the free market in this case.

An illustration of how an AT&T monopoly has reformed in spite of the deregulation efforts of the 1996 Telecommunications Act:

1 comment:

David Lackey said...

After a little prompting, there was some discussion about the role of government in regulating broadcast television. A couple people said that they didn't think the government had any business requiring stations to broadcast anything at all in the "public interest", in spite of the FCC's argument that broadcasting is "intrusive" and that the public owns the airwaves and so companies using the airwaves should serve the public interest. This may be due to the increased popularity of satellite TV and cable making broadcast TV seem like just another option instead of some intrusive force invading the home. One person did speak out in favor of public interest regulation due to what I referred to as externalities--the effects of media on our society (TV is making our children stupider).