IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Assigning Property Rights to Radio Spectrum Users: Why Did FCC License Auctions Take 67 Years?

  • Hazlett, Thomas W

While Leo Herzel (1951) and Ronald Coase (1959) persuasively argued for auctioning licenses issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), not until 1993 did the U.S. Congress grant the FCC authority to assign wireless operating permits via competitive bidding. Why were auctions, with obvious efficiency and equity advantages, so long in coming? Why were comparative hearings in the "public interest" first abandoned as assignment tools in 1981 not for auctions, but for lotteries? And why were radio and TV licenses pointedly excluded from auctions? Four factors--the special interest of regulators in influencing broadcasting content, the limits placed on explicit program regulation by the U.S. Constitution, the recent increase in the relative economic importance of nonbroadcast wireless services, and the agency problem embedded in central planning--are used to explain both the political stability of economically inefficient licensing methods and recent reforms. Copyright 1998 by the University of Chicago.

To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 41 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 529-75

in new window

Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:41:y:1998:i:2:p:529-75
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:41:y:1998:i:2:p:529-75. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.