… is from page 177 of University of Connecticut economist Richard Langlois’s monumental 2023 study, The Corporation and the Twentieth Century (footnotes deleted):
Calvin Coolidge signed the Radio Act of 1927 on February 23. Like the contemporary Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Radio Commission was endowed with lavish powers, and it used them to engage in what what essentially central planning. Licenses would be granted for a price of zero upon a finding of “public interest, convenience, and necessity,” as determined through hearings before the Commission. This misallocated resources into lobbying and persuading the Commission, prevented the market from moving resources from less to more valuable uses, and encouraged favoritism and corruption. The surest path to a broadcast license would now require a detour through Capitol Hill.
DBx: Yep. The title of my former GMU colleague Tom Hazlett’s superb 2017 book about U.S. government regulation of electronic communications says it all: The Political Spectrum.