The FCC and Quasi-Common Carriage: A Case Study of Agency Survival

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has managed to survive and even thrive despite its declining relevance as an economic regulator. While some scholars have argued that the FCC should survive as a regulator of economic “bottlenecks,” their explanations miss the FCC’s shift away from economic regulation toward social regulation and its blurring of the line between common carriage and private carriage. This report argues that it is the shift toward social regulation and “quasi–common carriage” has allowed the FCC to ensure its survival for the foreseeable future, despite the lack of an economic need for the FCC.

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