Bootleggers and Baptists Alert: Riaa and Radio Broadcasters

Lynne Kiesling

Bruce Yandle, call your office — it’s another bootleggers and Baptists alert! This time it’s RIAA and radio broadcasters, who usually are at loggerheads over things like song royalties but have found common cause and joined forces to lobby the FCC to mandate that all mobile devices have an FM receiver implanted in them.

Bootleggers and Baptists is one of the most robust political economy models of rent seeking around, and it’s a topic of perpetual interest here at KP. RIAA and radio doing joint lobbying to impose a technology mandate on everyone is a classic example; what would be a seemingly small cost per device could generate a lot of profit for them … concentrated benefits and diffuse costs, IF we actually listen to the radio and radio can sell advertising and pay royalties to RIAA artists. In my experience, that’s an increasingly big IF.

But, as the Wired post indicates, perhaps we have bilateral monopoly in federal regulatory rent-seeking, because the CEA is committed to fighting technology mandates for consumer devices.

When there’s bilateral monopoly in rent-seeking, only the politicians win.


One thought on “Bootleggers and Baptists Alert: Riaa and Radio Broadcasters

  1. I’d go a little further and say that bilateral rent seeking is the state of the art in political fund raising. An issue like net neutrality that can pit two deep pocket industries is the perfect storm for legislators. They never want a decision on the issue. The challenge is to find the key issue, keep it on the docket as long as possible and use that to support re-election efforts.

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