One of the most consistent observations made by economists of government regulation has been the seemingly inevitable phenomenon of “regulatory capture” (Dal Bó, 2006; Kahn, 1971; Laffont & Tirole, 1991; Levine & Forrence, 1990; Mitnick,1980; Stigler, 1971; Wu, 2010). According to Horwitz (1989), this occurs when a regulatory agency “systematically favors the private interests of regulated parties and systematically ignores the public interest” (emphasis in original, p. 29). The public interest thus becomes “perverted” as a regulator matures through several phases. “As the agency hits old age, it becomes a bureaucratic morass which, because of precedent, serves to protect its industry” (Horwitz, 1989, p. 30). Fraser (2000) used the same analogy of life stages to explain regulatory capture:

In their infancy, regulators show youthful activism. By middle age, they have succumbed to subtle co-option by industry interests. In their final stages of bureaucratic senility, they degenerate into passive interests of the corporate interest under their purview. (p. D11)

By that description, he added, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) provided an excellent example of regulatory capture.

Marc Edge, in the latest Canadian Journal of Communication.

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