From History to Policy: REGULATION, PUBLIC POLICY AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE

 

 

The idea of policy

 

The guarding of the people and state - the notion of policing!

 

In 18th century Germany they called their style of policy analysis and thinking: 'cameralism' from 'Kammer' meaning household.

 

The actual word for policy science or study was 'polizeiwissenschaften'

 

 

Policy as adminstrative principles and values which set the parameters of government or organisational action.

 

The loose set of rules for governing in regard of particular areas of the commonwealth eg. Health, agriculture, broadcasting…

 

 

Policy is shaped up and created by Ministers (the executive) who are usually accountable to a parliament (the legislature) - ie they are subject to scrutiny.

 

In the UK the DCMS Secretary Tessa Jowell is subject to scrutiny by a parliamentary 'select committee' for Culture, Media and Sport.

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmcumeds.htm

 

Here the policy set out by various departments of state eg. Home Office; Foreign Office; Department of Media Culture and Sport is discussed, criticised and evaluated in relation to the views of other interested bodies such as pressure groups, trade unions, industry.

 

The implication is that policy is not just to be reviewed by Ministers within government department, but also by other reviewing bodies who can recommend changes and give criticisms.

 

It is hoped that this 'feedback' will lead to better policy making.

 

 

BUT

 

 

Here we have a model of policy which is much argued over:

 

The model we have identified runs as follows:

 

Policy1…..Revision/criticism1…n instances of this…leads to new policy 2.

 

A rather rational dialogical process of proposal, review, scrutiny and new proposal as a RATIONAL response to criticism.

 

RATIONAL DECISION AND POLICY MAKING

 

The idea is that government have goals/ends which solve problems and make systems more efficient - thus we have the policy of Digital TV which rationally is going to give us a 'much better' TV service.

 

Government as well as the broadcasting industry encouraged by Govt, have pursued this.

 

Various committees have discussed it and reports have been drawn up setting out the optimal timetable for the shut off of the analogue service.

 

Again all terribly rational!

 

But…BUT

 

What if the public do not want to play these games? They like their analogue TV and do not want to be obliged to chuck them out by govt decision.

 

What if government recognising this start to back track and water down their policies eg. Put of the shut-off date?

 

 

What if their policy starts getting derailed by event and other contingencies (accidents, things out of the blue)…

 

What if they have to shift policy to accommodate gradually changing circumstances?

 

Perhaps we need another model of policy to account for changes in reality

 

Let's call this model - INCREMETALISM

 

Policy-making bit by bit; bits added on; bits taken off.

 

This is the second classic model of POLICY ; that of incrementalism as opposed to that of the rational model.

 

 

The rational model ignores the contingencies of life and also is highly formal in its account of the processes of the public sphere…

 

PUBLIC SPHERE: the realm of interaction between government and the public; and between public and public.

 

Implicitly anti-elitest: a sphere of wide debate and discussion about what is valuable

 

Which implies that the public should be informed about matters and discuss them -

 

And have the right of access to information and the means of dissemination such as the media itself. (the net?)

 

It also assumes that government is accountable to the public, rather than imposing is policies

 

 

Further government shapes policies and thus shapes the subjects of its policies eg. institutions such as the BBC, ITV etc…

in the interests of welfare of the public.

 

 

Government has thus a regulatory role in SHAPING the nature and functions of the nation and institutions within it.

 

De-regulation/re-regulation: since the arrival of cable, satellite and therefore multi-channel broadcasting, government realised that with the emergence of a large private (free-market/commercial sector in broadcasting, it could not heavily regulate such broadcasters. If it did, it would force them into directions they did not want to go - eg. impose certain quality programme quotas. In this case the broadcasting companies would tend to sell up quickly or just be slow to expand their business and their programme output. Neither of these would be advantageous for the TV business in say the UK.

 

In the late 80s and 90s Conservative Governments in Britain went for de-regulation; had a lighter touch with quality thresholds and with patterns of cross media ownership (ie. owning newspapers AND TV companies)

 

This de-regulation reshaped the structure of media in Britain and thus in this sense was a re-regulation.

 

Remember: by the term ‘de-regulation’ we usually mean the reduction in GOVERNMENT regulation of goods and services eg. Broadcasting, and a devolution of responsibility to either the public at large to do what they want, e.g. take and spend any amount of money abroad (in the 60s and 70s how much money you could take abroad on holiday was very restricted)…

 

OR more commonly, the private market e.g. the rise of multi-channel TV provided by lots of different companies competing to make profits. If what the companies can show and invest in is restricted (regulated) by government too heavily, the company will not bother providing the service. So if governments want to encourage commercial provision of goods and services (the ‘policy’ of neo-liberalisation which emerged under Thatcher in the 1980s), then they will do a lot of de-regulation of business.

 

LINK TO MODEL OF MEDIA POLICY PROCESS