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Essays on Regulation of Media, Entertainment, and Telecommunications.

By Peter Charles DiCola


The three essays in this dissertation study either how telecommunications regulation shapes the way media industries are organized or how copyright law constrains the creative works that the entertainment industry produces. Chapter Two analyzes the impact of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 on local radio markets. Using a unique geographic data set, the chapter calculates the pre- and post-1996 limits on the number of stations a single firm may own in a locality as actually implemented by the FCC. The limits are surprisingly permissive and vary considerably from city to city. A strong correlation exists between the 1996 increase in the limits and the increase in ownership concentration over the following five years. This correlation, and the variation in the limits on station ownership serve as a natural experiment in increased concentration to study the effects of concentration on various radio-market outcomes. Increased concentration causes an increase in advertising revenue and the number of programming formats offered, but no change in the size of the listening audience. Chapter Three examines copyright law’s treatment of digital sampling, the practice of using fragments of existing music in new music. The chapter describes a model of copyright holders’ and samplers’ incentives. Bargaining may not divide the profit from the sample-based derivative work between upstream and downstream creators in a way that provides musicians in both groups with sufficient incentives to create. The model demonstrates that, under some conditions, assigning the property rights in sample-based works to the upstream copyright owners can backfire. An optimal system for regulating sequential creation would balance the incentives of upstream and downstream creators, to the benefit of both groups. Chapter Four returns to the radio industry to estimate the effect of increased ownership concentration on labor markets. Local radio markets with higher ownership concentration employ fewer radio announcers, news reporters, and broadcast technicians. Moreover, those professions experienced smaller wage increases in more concentrated markets. These results suggest that increased concentration poses a threat to localism in radio as large firms shift away from hiring local employees and toward centralized staffing

Topics: Radio Regulation, Copyright Law, Digital Sampling, Telecommunications Act of 1996, Media Ownership, Media Concentration
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