The ability of the news media to deliver on the electoral forum, public sphere, and watchdog functions varies considerably across societies and media systems. Two key factors affect media performance : regulatory policy and market forces. Regulatory policy comes from the applicable regulatory framework. In the United States, the agency charged with regulating the media (the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC) has taken an increasingly laissez-faire approach, arguing that free-market competition is sufficient to ensure the delivery of diverse perspectives on public affairs issues. Most other advanced industrialized democracies, on the other hand-while also moving in the direction of deregulation-have maintained much tighter control over media programming, with the aim of ensuring the delivery of necessary public goods.

Media Politics (Shanto Iyengar)

the agency was charged with regulating the media, but in the following sentence, it's said it has taken an increasingly laissez-faire approach. How is that possible? I mean, according to the dictionary, laissez-faire means 'No government interference with business or personal life', which then means the agency supported 'free access' or 'not regulating anything', but it was charged with regulating the media. I don't get it.. Can anyone help me with this?

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    In this context, laissez-faire means the government has actively chosen deliberately light regulation.
    – akashic
    Sep 4, 2017 at 7:50
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    The important word for understanding this is increasingly. It introduces the idea of degree. Strict regulation and laissez-faire are at opposite ends of a continuum or spectrum.
    – TimR
    Sep 4, 2017 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


Your understanding is correct: the agency responsible for regulation is regulating less and less, according to the quote.

There is no contradiction here. The fact that an agency is charged with regulation doesn't in itself tell us how much it ought to regulate. The degree and type of regulation and frequency of intervention may vary depending on either the agency's own leadership and policies or the directives it has been given by the government.

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