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Journal Article

Franchise Bidding for Natural Monopolies-in General and with Respect to CATV

Oliver E. Williamson
The Bell Journal of Economics
Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring, 1976), pp. 73-104
Published by: RAND Corporation
DOI: 10.2307/3003191
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3003191
Page Count: 32
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Franchise Bidding for Natural Monopolies-in General and with Respect to CATV
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Abstract

The orthodox attitude among economists toward regulation is one of "disdain and contempt." The general reputation is not undeserved, but it fails to discriminate among different economic activities and different types of regulation. An effort to distinguish between those circumstances in which regulation, in some form, is immanent from those in which market modes can be made to work relatively well is needed. Discriminating assessments of regulated industries (extant and proposed) will be facilitated by examining transactions in much greater microanalytic detail than has been characteristic of prior studies of regulation and proposed alternatives thereto. My examination of franchise bidding for natural monopoly discloses that this mode suffers from much more severe contractual disabilities than have hitherto been acknowledged. Faced with both technological and market uncertainties, CATV, circa 1970, does not appear to be among the circumstances for which unassisted franchise bidding can be expected to work well.

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