Two dominant industries, one regulatory agency
Sindik, Amy Lynn
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What happens when two dominant industries are regulated by the same agency? The majority of regulatory research operates under the assumption that the agency is captured by a single, dominant industry. Having two dominant industries regulated by the same agency impacts the government relations strategies of corporations in both industries. This situation is occurring at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the broadcast and wireless industries, two industries that previously received separate regulatory attention from the FCC are now competing for regulatory favoritism on policy issues including spectrum allocation and broadband innovation. This dissertation argues that competition for regulatory favoritism will impact the lobbying and campaign contribution activities of corporations in the broadcast and wireless industries. This argument is developed through the creation of a theoretical framework and empirical studies. The theoretical framework brings in institutional isomorphism and resource dependence theory to moderate traditional regulatory capture theory to examine the effectiveness of lobbying and campaign contribution strategies when a regulatory agency oversees more than one dominant industry. Empirically, this dissertation examines the effect increased competition between the wireless and broadcast industries has on the government relations strategies of both industries, through the creation of lobbying expenditure and campaign contribution data sets and interviews with lobbyists employed in both industries. The main empirical focus of the study is the government relation strategies of the broadcast and wireless industries. The findings suggests that isomorphic lobbying strategies still occur frequently between the telecommunications and broadcast industries, but some efforts are being made to distinguish lobbying and campaign contribution strategies from one another in an attempt to achieve regulatory capture. The findings also suggest that lobbyists employed by broadcast and wireless corporations do not believe the FCC will ever be fully captured by one dominant industry, setting up a cycle of competition, increased spending on lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions, and attempts to receive regulatory favoritism that is likely to continue, and even increase, as other previously separate industries (e.g., the Internet industry) begin to have their own conflicting policy goals for communication issues.