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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:  14 MR. GOMERY: Why is rigor the only criteria? MR. BESEN: Because we don’t know how to judge any other way. Then it’s just your vague opinion against my vague opinion and how’s the commission or anybody else going to judge? MR. GOMERY: Rigor is based on a certain set of analysis of the world about how economists break down the world and the fact is if you . . . look at universities, there in fact are a diversity–a wide range of views of how to understand the world. You can argue that neoclassical economics is superior to anthropology, or superior to sociology or superior to something else by certain criteria, but that doesn’t make it the only appropriate and by its criterion rigor the only way to analyze the world. (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, October 29, p.85) But Besen seems from the transcript to have been unimpressed by this argument and after a brief further exchange, and an unreported intervention from the audience, it was decided to leave that issue for the subsequent panel of which Gomery would be a member. In his prepared statement for that second panel Gomery again argued for questioning a “pure free market approach which assumes that efficient operation represents the paramount— and often sole goal, for any media enterprise” (Gomery, 2001, np). He was also critical of analyses of media industries “based upon the assumptions made in a neo-classical [economic] model which works poorly for judging mass media performance” (Gomery, 2001, np). As an alternative he suggested a series of six “performance norms” for judging the performance of a mass media industry based on the earlier work of Dennis McQuail (1992). These “performance norms” were: “efficiency”, “multiple voices”, “public order”, “cultural quality”, “technical change”, and “equity” (Gomery, 2001, np). Gomery noted that most of these six criteria are not something that the market rewards. But a reading of the transcript of the roundtable shows that whenever a non-economic perspective was raised it took just a very short time for the discussion to revert to economics. An interesting exception came at the beginning of the concluding session of the roundtable when

Authors: Blevins, Jeffrey. and Brown, Duncan.
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14
MR. GOMERY: Why is rigor the only criteria?
MR. BESEN: Because we don’t know how to judge any other
way. Then it’s just your vague opinion against my vague opinion
and how’s the commission or anybody else going to judge?
MR. GOMERY: Rigor is based on a certain set of analysis of the
world about how economists break down the world and the fact is
if you . . . look at universities, there in fact are a diversity–a wide
range of views of how to understand the world. You can argue that
neoclassical economics is superior to anthropology, or superior to
sociology or superior to something else by certain criteria, but that
doesn’t make it the only appropriate and by its criterion rigor the
only way to analyze the world. (Federal Communications
Commission, 2001, October 29, p.85)
But Besen seems from the transcript to have been unimpressed by this argument and after a brief
further exchange, and an unreported intervention from the audience, it was decided to leave that
issue for the subsequent panel of which Gomery would be a member.
In his prepared statement for that second panel Gomery again argued for questioning a
“pure free market approach which assumes that efficient operation represents the paramount—
and often sole goal, for any media enterprise” (Gomery, 2001, np). He was also critical of
analyses of media industries “based upon the assumptions made in a neo-classical [economic]
model which works poorly for judging mass media performance” (Gomery, 2001, np). As an
alternative he suggested a series of six “performance norms” for judging the performance of a
mass media industry based on the earlier work of Dennis McQuail (1992). These “performance
norms” were: “efficiency”, “multiple voices”, “public order”, “cultural quality”, “technical
change”, and “equity” (Gomery, 2001, np). Gomery noted that most of these six criteria are not
something that the market rewards.
But a reading of the transcript of the roundtable shows that whenever a non-economic
perspective was raised it took just a very short time for the discussion to revert to economics. An
interesting exception came at the beginning of the concluding session of the roundtable when


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