HJL Collections


Papers & Publications
Main Page

Invisible Resource

Harvesting the Invisible Resource
HJL Collection Exhibit

Guide to HJL Collection


HJL Public Policy Workshop

Additional Personal Materials
Issues & Events



Testifying for U.S.-Asia Institute, 1970s

"Further applying the core principles of resource economics to an ‘invisible resource,’ Harvey Levin identifies the radio spectrum as a public good requiring careful regulation, anticipating by 25 years the auctioning of spectrum rights."

-- Resources for the Future 50th Anniversary Symposium, October 15, 2002




How diverse can, and should, television programming be?  And especially, in what precise ways does governmental regulation of television affect (or fail to affect) the programs station owners produce – programs which, in the final analysis, shape in such large measure the values of Americans?  It is to these timely and beguiling questions that Dr. Levin addresses his dispassionate assessment of the complex relationship between government and the television industry.  Analyzing data drawn from the history of the Federal Communications Commission’s regulatory decisions, as well as from interviews with numerous government and industry officials, Dr. Levin shows how the present form of restrictive governmental regulation almost always results in higher profits and rents for television stations, with no concomitant increase in programming diversity.


In addition, Dr. Levin investigates various other aspects of the media market, from the particular kinds of crucial decisions that are made when, for example, a newspaper owns a television station, to the kinds of problems that arise when commercial rents are taxed to fund public television; from the brand of programming we are offered when a monopoly controls a given television market to the nature of programming in a situation of steady and fair competition.  Following a comprehensive assessment, the author makes a compelling case for diversification of station ownership, in order t be “safe rather than sorry.”  He also argues for the entry of new stations, more extensive support of public television, and some form of quantitative program requirements – all of which will help bring about greater program diversity.  Dr. Levin’s volume provides us with a fully documented and sharply focused analysis of theories, policies, and problems of one of the most powerful and misunderstood of contemporary institutions.
2. THE INVISIBLE RESOURCE – USE AND REGULATION OF THE RADIO SPECTRUM, 432 pp. (Johns Hopkins Press, 1971)   [webpage]

The radio spectrum – that portion of the electro-magnetic waves by which information is transmitted through the air – presents mounting problems of allocation as use and resultant congestion continue to increase.  In this book an economist looks at a field which heretofore has been largely the province of engineers and scientists on the one hand, and of lawyers and public administrators on the other.


Although the spectrum is a resource of great economic and social value, market considerations still play almost no part in its allocation.  No price is paid for it despite the huge private and public investments that are based on its use.  Anyone in the United States who wishes access to the spectrum must obtain permission from the Federal Communications Commission or, in the case of a federal government agency, from the Director of Telecommunications Management.  Authorized users cannot sell or share any portion of their allocation.  Thus they lack incentive to economize its use, or to transfer rights to others who value them more highly.  Moreover, large portions of the spectrum are assigned to various services – radio, television, land mobile units, local governments, for example – across the board and across the country, with no chance of transfer among such categories.


Dr. Levin describes and analyzes the economic characteristics of the radio spectrum, giving a detailed account of the workings of the communications system as they relate to spectrum use.  He also discusses procedures and institutions that might be feasible machinery.  He suggests that the most practical course in this country may lie somewhere between the present system and a full-fledged market for the spectrum.  The Invisible Resource should be of special interest to students of public administration, administrative law, and common property resource allocation as well as to administrators, spectrum users, and equipment suppliers in the communications industry.

3.  BROADCAST REGULATION AND JOINT OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA, 219 pp. (New York University Press, 1960)

Throughout our history a most trenchant national principle has been the vigorous exchange of ideas as safeguarded by the multitude of separately owned media.  This fundamental right is violated by the frequent tie-ins between broadcast stations and their older rivals the newspapers and movies.  Many authorities who look to radio and television for additional channels of communication and discussion are alarmed by the affiliation of broadcast and nonbroadcast media.


Is this affiliation the inevitable by-product of production and management economies in joint operation?  Are such “cross-channel” affiliations the only way older media can stabilize their revenues and quality?  Is the growth of joint ownership the result of passivity of broadcast regulations?  These are the issues explored in this book.  In seeking the answers Dr. Levin reveals that intermedia competition is unlikely to disrupt the resources of older media.  He discusses the competitive impact of new media on old and how the old can adjust to the new in price and quality without harming the economic stability and quality of all media.


Dr. Levin concludes that independent separately owned media would help restore neglected tastes and needs and provide a full and fair forum for news and commentary.  Separate ownership is found to promote diversity and encourage individual expression; it also provides salutary competition in the content and quality of rival media.  The book concludes by offering specific ways to strengthen the regulatory policy that now governs joint ownership of media...

4.  TELEVISION STATION OWNERSHIP – A CASE STUDY OF FEDERAL AGENCY REGULATION, eds. Cherington, Hirsch & Brandwein (Hastings House, 1971), 304 pp. 

Book version of research study for Council for Television Development, major portions of which drew on Dr. Levin's work as consultant to United Research, Inc., Cambridge, Mass. (Prepared with cooperation of the FCC.) Dr. Levin’s related paper, "Competition, Diversity, and the Television Group Ownership Rule", Columbia Law Review, May 1970, pp. 791-835, was one of 21 leading articles appearing in period 1934-78 and selected for inclusion in Anthology Edition of a new Yearbook of Broadcasting Articles published by Federal Publications, Inc. in 1980.

In 1965 the Federal Communications Commission considered the “Notice of Proposed Rule Making” to limit the number of stations any one group could own in the nation’s largest markets.  The proposed rule was abandoned in 1968, but the problem of spectrum regulation has remained an important and hotly-debated issue.


To protest the 1965 rule, a group of forty-two firms which together owned over 100 television stations formed the Council for Television Development.  The Council decided that an independent study would be of great value in understanding the implications of the proposed regulation.  A management consulting firm, United Research Incorporated, was engaged to prepare a report to be transmitted to the FCC in its entirety.


This book is essentially that report…  The report examines the functioning of a key federal regulatory agency, the FCC, by focusing on its operations in the field of TV station licensing.  Thus the report has relevance not only for those in the broadcast industry, but also for individuals in business, economics, political science, and law who are concerned with governmental regulation of business.

5.  BUSINESS ORGANIZATION AND PUBLIC POLICY (Rinehart & Co., 1958), 550 pp. An anthology edited with commentary, with Foreward by John Perry Miller of Yale.

This anthology explores the bases and consequences of certain governmental policies towards business.  Part One focuses mainly on antitrust, its objectives and effectiveness, and on the basic characteristics of industrial structure and behavior with which it must deal.  Part Two then explores the relationship between business competition and broad social goals like national security, conservation, and the efficiency and adequacy of agriculture, distribution, public utilities, etc., dealing largely with the premises and effects of key policies in such areas.  Therefore, the coverage is considerably broader than the orthodox treatment of industrial organization and yet far less extensive than that attempted in the broadest legal, philosophical, and historical treatments of “social control.”


One major assumption throughout it that the results of business behavior under competitive and monopolistic conditions can and should be analyzed in terms of their effects not on one but on several social objectives.  This is no startling innovation in light of Keynesian and Schumpeterian analyses of the relation between competitive business behavior, economic stability, and economic growth.  Nor is the multiple-standard approach new to the literature on government and business: e.g., monopoly and competition are increasingly analyzed in terms of technological progress, income distribution, and even economic stability, as well as internal and allocative efficiency.


On the more practical side, the multiple-standard approach runs through reports of the Council of Economic Advisers and is clearly visible in Joint Economic Committee reports like Federal Tax Policy for Economic Growth and Stability where various taxes are analyzed not only in terms of equity, but for their impact on stability, growth of small business, and so on, with special attention to conflicts between the different goals and to their bearing on essential tax reform…


Articles and Papers (selected listing)   [Conference recordings]

A. National Policy Alternatives in Radio Spectrum Management

"Trading Orbit Spectrum Assignments in the Space Satellite Industry," The American Economic Review, Vol. 81, No. 2, The American Economic Association, May 1991

7.  "New Evidence About Spectrum Value and Some Policy Implications," Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Conference of the Pacific Telecommunications Council, January 13-16, 1991, Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Honolulu, HI
8.  "Global Claim-Staking and Latecomer Cost in the Orbit Spectrum Resource," published in Telecommunications Policy, Butterworth Scientific Ltd. (June 1990), then reprinted in Space Communications, Vol. 7 (July 1990), published by Elsevier Scientific Pubs Inc., North Holland Pub Co, Amsterdam. Initially prepared for December 1988 Meetings of American Economic Association, New York, for a panel on "Orbit, Spectrum, and Entry Conditions in Space Satellite Communication – The State of Empirical Knowledge".
9.  "Joint Ventures, Acquisitions and the Market Trading of Orbit Spectrum Assignments in the Space Satellite Industry", Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Conference of the Pacific Telecommunications Council, January 14-17, 1990, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, HI, at pp. 261-65. Further modified, developed and presented at the December 1990 Meetings of the American Economic Association, Washington, DC, as "Trading Orbit Spectrum Assignments in the Space Satellite Industry", invited paper for the May 1991 Proceedings Volume.
10.  "Regulating the Global Commons – A Case Study." Research in Law and Economics (Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Washington), Vol. 12, December 1989, pp. 247-66.
10a.        Initial version presented on panel Dr. Levin organized for 95th Annual Meetings of the American Economic Association in New York, December 1982, on issues posed by seabed mineral nodules, ocean fisheries, acid rain, and orbit spectrum.
10b.       Adapted for further airing at Sixth Princeton-Space Studies Institute Conference on Space Manufacturing, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton Univ., May 1983.
Synopsis published in Space Manufacturing – 1983, Burke and Whitt (eds.), American Astronautical Society (1983), pp. 431-39, after Woodrow Wilson Conference sponsored by Princeton University, Space Studies Institute, and AAS.
[1988, 1986]
11.  "Emergent Markets for Orbit Spectrum Assignments – an Idea Whose Time Has Come." Telecommunications Policy, Butterworth Scientific, Inc. (March 1988), pp. 57-76.
11a.       Initial version presented at 99th Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, New Orleans, December 1986, on panel Dr. Levin organized on emergent markets for airport landing rights, emission trading rights, marketable fishery rights, and orbit spectrum assignments.
12.  "Latecomer Cost Handicap: Importance in a Changing Regulatory Landscape." In Tracing New Orbits – Cooperation and Competition in Global Satellite Development. Donna A. Demac (ed.), Columbia University Press (1986), pp. 251-79.
12a.       Presented first in different form at Conference on Tracing New Orbits, Columbia University, November 30, 1984.
12b.       Subsequently revised, elaborated, and adapted for pre-publication in June 1985 issue of Telecommunications Policy, pp. 121-35, as "Latecomer Cost Handicap in Satellite Communications."
13.  "In Search of Common Pool Behavior – The Case of Redundant Satellite Capacity," 15 pp. Presented at Meetings of the International Atlantic Economic Association, Rome, Italy, March 1985. Reprinted in Columbia University Research Program in Telecommunications and Information Policy (1985). Based mainly on work as Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, and the East-West Center Honolulu.
14.  "The Political Economy of Orbit Spectrum Leasing," Regulation of Transnational Communication, 1984 Michigan Yearbook of International Legal Studies, University of Michigan Law School (Clark Boardman Pub. Co.), pp. 41-70. This expanded revision was first presented at 57th Annual Conference of the Western Economic Association International, Los Angeles, July 1982, and then aired at Fifth Pacific Telecommunications Conference, Honolulu, January 1983.
15.  "U.S. Communication Policies at Home and Abroad: Are They Consistent?", George Gerbner & Marsha Siefert (eds.), World Communications, Longman (1984), pp. 433-44. Presented first at the Annenberg Conference on World Communications: Decisions for the Eighties, at the University of Pennsylvania, May 1980.

"Foreign and Domestic U.S. Policies – Spectrum Reservations and Media Balance." Telecommunications Policy (June 1982), pp. 123-36.


"Spectrum Negotiations and the Geostationary Satellites," New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 4, No. 1 (1982), pp. 77-81


"Resistence to Spectrum Deregulation – A Role for Experiments and A Priori Assessment?" In Deregulation – Appraisal Before the Fact, Thomas G. Gies & Werner Sichel (eds.), University of Michigan (1982), pp. 127-60. Presented earlier at Ninth Conference on Public Utility Regulation, Inter-University Committee on Public Utility Economics, University of Michigan at Dearborn, March 26-27, 1981.

19.  "Orbit and Spectrum Resource Strategies – Third World Demands," Telecommunications Policy, June 1981, pp. 102-10, adapted from paper for Third Pacific Telecommunications Conference, Honolulu, January 1981. Ideas aired also for Resources for the Future, December 1980, and for invited symposia at the New York Law School International Law Society (on "New World Information Order"), May 1982; MIT Program on Communications Policy, February 1982, Ninth Annual Conference on Telecommunications Policy Research, Annapolis, April 1981; IEEE/AIAA Spectrum Conference, New York City, January 1981.
20.  "Common Pool and Free Rider Probems in Global Spectrum Management." 56th Annual Conference of the Western Economic Association International, San Francisco, July 1981, 20 pp.

"Externalities, Common Property Pricing, and the Management of TV Broadcast Rents," in H. Terbing (ed.), New Dimensions in Public Utility Pricing (MSU Press, 1976), pp. 83-105.


"Spectrum Allocation Without Markets," American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, May 1970, pp. 209-18. Session Chairman: Kermit Gordon.

23.  "The Radio Spectrum Resource," Journal of Law and Economics, October 1968, pp. 433-501 (Commissioned by Resources for the Future and Brookings for first national conference on Use and Regulation of the Radio Spectrum, Airlie House, September 1967).
24.  New Technology and the Old Regulation in Radio Spectrum Management," American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, May 1966, pp. 339-49. Session Chairman: J.R. Nelson.
B. The Effects of Public Policies Towards Private Business
(a) Methodology

"Unanticipated Consequences Under Direct Regulation," in W. Sichel (ed.), Salvaging Public Utility Regulation (Lexington Books, 1976), pp. 117-47. Invited paper Sixth Conference on Public Utility Regulation, Inter-University Committee on Public Utility Economics.

26.  "Franchise Values, Merit Programming and Policy Options in Television Broadcasting," in Richard E. Caves & Marc J. Roberts, Regulating the Product – Quality and Variety (Ballinger, 1975), pp. 221-47. (Brookings Workshop on Regulation of Economic Activity at Harvard University).
27.  "Standards of Welfare in Economic Thought," Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 1956, pp. 117-38.
(b) Broadcasting, Satellites, Cable TV and the Press
28.  "U.S. Broadcast Deregulation – A Case Study," Winter 1986 issue of Journal of Communication of University of Pennsylvania, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 25-40.
28a.       Adapted from Dr. Levin’s Statement to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, submitted by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., September 11, 1984, and as Attachment to their Petition for Reconsideration filed with Federal Communications Commission on September 10, 1984, in Docket No. 83-1009.
28b.       Prior presentation at Annual Meetings of International Communications Association, Honolulu, May 23-27, 1985, as case study in problems posed by deficient evidence in broadcast deregulation.
28c.       It was also reprinted in the Research Working Paper Series in the Columbia University Research Program in Telecommunications and Information Policy, May 1985, under the title "Recission of the FCC’s Group Ownership Rules – Problems Posed by Deficient Evidence in Broadcast Deregulation."
29.  "Comments on Antitrust, Concentration, and Competition." In Video Media Competition – Regulation, Economics, and Technology, Eli Noam (ed.), Columbia University Press (1985), pp. 390-96.


"Competition, Diversity, and the Television Group Ownership Rule." Reprinted in Anthology Edition of a new Yearbook of Broadcasting Articles, Federal Publications, Inc. (1980), as one of 21 leading articles appearing in period 1934-78. Originally published in Columbia Law Review, May 1970, pp. 791-835.


"Television’s Second Chance: A Retrospective Look at the Sloan Cable Commission," Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science, Spring 1973.

[1971, 1975]
32.  "The Policy on Joint Ownership of Newspapers and Television Stations: Some Assumptions, Objectives and Effects", transmitted via Center for Policy Research to FCC Docket No. 18110, April 1971, 55 pp.
33.  "Program Duplication, Diversity and Effective Viewer Choices: Some Empirical Findings," American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, May 1971, pp. 81-88. Session Chairman: Peter O. Steiner.
34.  "Competition, Diversity, and the Television Group Ownership Rule," Columbia Law Review, May 1970. pp. 791-835.
35.  "Broadcast Structure, Technology, and the ABC-ITT Merger Decision," Law and Contemporary Problems, Communications Symposium, Summer 1969 (published August 1970), pp. 452-84. Based on work for Justice Department and Ford Foundation.
36.  "Carrier and Noncarrier Interests in Satellite Organizational Structure," Justice Department Evidentiary Document No. J343, transmitted to FCC Docket No. 16828, Spring 1967, 67 pp. Based on work for Justice Department and Ford Foundation.
37.  "Special Analysis of TV Station Sales Prices," in United Research, Inc., The Implications of Limiting Multiple Ownership of Television Stations, 2 vols. (Dr. Levin directed research and drafting of chapters 3, 5, and 6 and of Appendix H.) This study transmitted on October 1, 1966 by the Council for Television Development to FCC Docket No. 16068, 500 pp.
38.  "Organization and Control of Communications Satellites," University of Pennsylvania Law Review, January 1965, pp. 315-57, (reprinted in L.B. Schwartz and J.J. Flynn, Anti-trust and Regulatory Alternatives, Foundation Press, 1977, 1972, 1966). [Carnegie Fellow in Law and Economics, The Harvard Law School]
39.  "Economic Effects of Broadcast Licensing," Journal of Political Economics, April 1964, pp. 515-62 [Brookings Professorship].
40.  "Federal Control of Entry in the Broadcast Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, October 1962, pp. 49-67. [Brookings Professorship] (reprinted).
41. "Regulatory Efficiency, Reform and the FCC," Georgetown Law Journal, Fall 1961, pp. 1-45. [Brookings Professorship] (reprinted).
42.  "Broadcast Regulation and Intermedium Competition," Virginia Law Journal, November 1959, pp. 1104-38.
43.  "Economic Structure and the Regulation of Television," Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 1958, pp. 424-50.
44.  "Workable Competition and Regulatory Policy in Television Broadcasting," Land Economics, May 1958, pp. 101-12. (Review Article on Barrow Report.)
45. "The Logic of Educational Television," Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 1956-57, pp. 675-90.
[1954, 1975]
46.  "Competition Among the Mass Media and the Public Interest," Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 1954, pp. 62-79 (reprinted in Lichty & Toping, eds., American Broadcasting – A Sourcebook, Hastings House, 1975).
C. Other Regulatory
47.  "Limits of Self-Regulation," Columbia Law Review, April 1967, pp. 603-44 (antitrust aspects with case studies on smoking, automotive safety and broadcasting). [Carnegie Fellow in Law and Economics, The Harvard Law School.]
48.  "Economic and Regulatory Aspects of Liquor Licensing," University of Pennsylvania Law Review, April 1964, pp. 785-833. [Carnegie Fellow in Law and Economics, The Harvard Law School.]
49.  "Liquor Licensing in New York State" (Study Paper No. 4 as Consultant to NYS Moreland Commission on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, October 1963, 43 pp.). [Co-Director of Moreland Inquiry with Professor Donald Dewey, Department of Economics, Columbia University, at request of Commissioner William C. Warren, Dean, Columbia Law School, and Chairman, Judge Lawrence J. Walsh.]
50.  "Public Prediction in Theory and Fact," Southern Economic Journal, January 1958, pp. 338-53.
D. Short Statements and Comments
51.  "Comments on Future of Consumers Sovereignty," at 85th Annual Meeting of American Economic Association, December 1971, New Orleans (paper by Abba P. Lerner), in session organized by Robert Solow.
52.  "Comments on Public Policy with Respect to Private Business," American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, May 1963, pp. 62-64 (paper by Ben Lewis). Session Chairman: Richard B. Heflebower.
E. Book Reviews [1971, 1970, 1962, 1951, 1950]
[American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Literature of AEA]
53. De Vany et. al., Electromagnetic Spectrum Management: Alternatives and Experiments (1969), invited review for Journal of Economic Literature of American Economic Association, September 1970, pp. 8600-62.
54.  Edwin Emery, History of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, University of Minnesota, 1950 (Review: American Economic Review, March 1951).
55.  George J. Stigler, Five Lectures on Economic Problems, Macmillan, 1950 (Review: Nation, July 22, 1950).
56.  Kenneth Boulding,  A Reconstruction of Economics, Wiley, 1950 (Review: Nation, January 20, 1951).
57.  Wilhelm Ropke, The Social Crisis of Our Times, University of Chicago, 1951 (Review: Nation, April 14, 1951).
58.  J.B. Condliffe, The Commerce of Nations, Norton, 1950 (Review: Nation, May 27, 1950).
59.  B.M. Anderson, Economics and the Public Welfare, Van Nostrand, 1950 (Review: New Leader, May 13, 1950).
60.  Roland Bartlett, Security for the People, Wilcox and Follet, 1950 (Review: Survey, February 1950).

F. Other Articles [1960, 1954, 1953, 1952, 1951, 1950]



"Political Broadcasting: Alternatives to Present Version of Equal Time Discussed," New York Times, July 1960



"Guarding Civil Liberties: Danger to Our Security is Seen in Anti-Subversive Bills," New York Times, July 31, 1954



"Economics in Cross Channel Affiliation of Media: the chief advantages of owning two different kinds of media appear to lie in promotion and ‘hedging’ against the unknown, rather than in lower costs," Journalism Quarterly, Spring 1954



"Social Welfare Aspects of FCC Broadcast Licensing Standards," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 13, No. 1, October 1953



"TV in the Campaign: Is your right to complete information protected?", Frontier, April 1953



"Television: Subscriber Service?", Frontier, July 1952



"The Miracle Decision" (re: ban of film), New Republic, June 23, 1952



"The Ban against the building of new television stations," Nation, May 3, 1952



"Educational TV: The Time Is Now," Nation, February 16, 1952



"To Deal with Inflation: the highly unpopular direct wage-price control must be used, this economist argues, in addition to budget economies, credit curbs, and taxes," Survey, Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 2, February 1952



The Educators and Television: The Ford Workshop and a proposal in the Senate that commercial stations set aside fixed time for public-service programs shouldn’t prevent separate, non-profit stations," New Leader, October 15, 1951



"How Much Merger in Television?", Nation, October 13, 1951



"Television for Educators," New York Times, September 30, 1951



"Ford Workshop or Educators in Television?", Labor and Nation, Summer 1951



"The Movies Watch Television," New Leader, June 25, 1951



"Will TV Kill Newspapers?: That’s the fear of the publishers who now hold stock in more than 40 per cent of our television stations," New Leader, April 9, 1951



"Radio, Television and Society" (review of book by C.A. Siepmann), Journal of Political Economy, April 1951



"History of American Newspaper Publishers Association" (review of book by Edwin Emery), New Republic, March 5, 1951



"British Broadcasting: A Study in Monopoly" (review of book by R.H. Coase), Survey, October 1950



"The Fate of FM Radio: Hailed as ‘radio’s second chance’ before the war, frequency modulation is a first-class flop," New Leader, June 10, 1950



"Consequences of Economic Planning" (book review of Planning and the Price Mechanism by J.E. Meade and The Economic Problem in Peace and War by Lionel Robbins), New Leader, April 8, 1950



HJL Collections


Papers & Publications
Main Page

Invisible Resource

Harvesting the Invisible Resource
HJL Collection Exhibit

Guide to HJL Collection


HJL Public Policy Workshop

Additional Personal Materials
Issues & Events