The charm of early radio was that “experimentation, spontaneity and content aimed at small audiences were common.” The FRC disfavored this type of content as narrowly-focused propaganda, and instead adopted rules that resulted in the growth of commercial radio financed by advertising revenues. Although commercial radio produced a Golden Age of programming in the late 1930s, the question remains whether the FRC’s decision to favor corporate-sponsored networks—rather than the multiplicity of diverse non-commercial stations-- best served the public interest. The FRC performed a valuable service by helping to create commercial networks but did so at the cost of achieving diversity. Yet, today, there is a strong push to see just such diversity in broadcast programming on radio and television.
FCC LAUNCHES NEW STAFF WORKING PAPER SERIESFirst Two Papers Give a Historical Review of Pivotal FCC Decisions And a Review of Minimum Subsidy AuctionsThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today released the first two of its new FCC Staff Working Papers. This agency-wide research paper series replaces all of the earlier working paper series that had been issued by individual bureaus and offices. It is intended to encourage staff research that furthers the “expert” function of the agency and builds agency intellectual capital. This active research program is managed by the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis (OSP).The first paper in this series is “Transformative Choices: A Review of 70 Years of FCC Decisions” by Sherille Ismail, a Senior Attorney in OSP. The paper presents a historical review of a series of pivotal FCC decisions that helped shape today’s communications landscape. It finds that there have been a number of successful efforts by the FCC, before and after the 1970s, to promote new entrants, especially in the markets for commercial radio, cable television, telephone equipment, and direct broadcast satellites.The second paper is “Maximum Impact for Minimum Subsidy: Reverse Auctions for Universal Access in Chile and India,” by Irene Wu, Acting Chief Data Officer for the International Bureau. Dr. Wu argues that government funding for universal service and broadband support programs could be quicker and more efficient if the FCC were to use reverse auctions (also called “minimum subsidy auctions”) to support those programs. Toward that end, she examines the implementation of such auctions in the last 15 years in Chile and India.The full text of both working papers is available at http://www.fcc.gov/papers/