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Broadcast Ownership Regulation in a Border Era: An Analysis of how the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is Shaping the Debate on Broadcast Ownership Limits
Unformatted Document Text:  9 that broadcast regulation was “shaped by six primary determiners: the FCC, the regulated industries, citizen groups, the courts, the White House, and Congress” (Krasnow, Longley & Terry, 1982, p. 133). A little over twenty years later we might question the relative power of these groups to influence the current policy-making process, especially the power of citizen groups, but for our purposes here a more significant critique would be that this formulation ignores many of the earlier stages in the broadcast policy-making process. The ideas that are incorporated into the exchanges between these six “primary determiners” do not appear magically out of the ether. Instead, they incorporate elements from earlier policy debates, concurrent debates, and prior research studies. This longer term view of the broadcast policy-making process was developed by Mosco (1982) based on earlier work by Domhoff (1978). Here “resources” from such sources as corporations and foundations fund “research” in think tanks, and universities. The output from this work is fed into a “decision-making” stage where the policy alternatives are discussed. Kingdon refers to this stage where ideas are exchanged as “the policy-primeval soup.” Some proposals are rather rapidly discarded as being somehow kooky; others are taken more seriously and survive in some altered form. But in the policy primeval soup, quite a wide range of ideas is possible and is considered to some extent. The range at this stage is considerably more inclusive than the set of alternatives that is actually weighed during a shorter period of final decision making. (Kingdon, 1995, p. 122) If we adopt this alternative perspective it becomes clear that a very significant form of power in the broadcast policy-making process is the ability to sponsor certain ideas or particular studies and increase the chance that they will be incorporated into the final decision-making stage. In effect, it is the power to shape the terms of the policy debate. Not everyone in Washington has this power. In his study of the policy-making process in Washington, DC,

Authors: Blevins, Jeffrey. and Brown, Duncan.
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9
that broadcast regulation was “shaped by six primary determiners: the FCC, the regulated
industries, citizen groups, the courts, the White House, and Congress” (Krasnow, Longley &
Terry, 1982, p. 133).
A little over twenty years later we might question the relative power of these groups to
influence the current policy-making process, especially the power of citizen groups, but for our
purposes here a more significant critique would be that this formulation ignores many of the
earlier stages in the broadcast policy-making process. The ideas that are incorporated into the
exchanges between these six “primary determiners” do not appear magically out of the ether.
Instead, they incorporate elements from earlier policy debates, concurrent debates, and prior
research studies. This longer term view of the broadcast policy-making process was developed
by Mosco (1982) based on earlier work by Domhoff (1978). Here “resources” from such sources
as corporations and foundations fund “research” in think tanks, and universities. The output
from this work is fed into a “decision-making” stage where the policy alternatives are discussed.
Kingdon refers to this stage where ideas are exchanged as “the policy-primeval soup.”
Some proposals are rather rapidly discarded as being somehow
kooky; others are taken more seriously and survive in some altered
form. But in the policy primeval soup, quite a wide range of ideas
is possible and is considered to some extent. The range at this
stage is considerably more inclusive than the set of alternatives that
is actually weighed during a shorter period of final decision
making. (Kingdon, 1995, p. 122)
If we adopt this alternative perspective it becomes clear that a very significant form of
power in the broadcast policy-making process is the ability to sponsor certain ideas or particular
studies and increase the chance that they will be incorporated into the final decision-making
stage. In effect, it is the power to shape the terms of the policy debate. Not everyone in
Washington has this power. In his study of the policy-making process in Washington, DC,


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