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The media accountability of independent regulatory agencies

  • Martino Maggetti (a1)

Independent regulatory agencies (IRAs) are increasingly attracting academic and societal attention, as they represent the institutional cornerstone of the regulatory state and play a key role in policy-making. Besides the expected benefits in terms of credibility and efficiency, these regulators are said to bring about a ‘democratic deficit’, following their statutory separation from democratic institutions. Consequently, a ‘multi-pronged system of control’ is required. This article focuses on a specific component of this system, that is, the media. The goal is to determine whether media coverage of IRAs meets the necessary prerequisites to be considered a potential ‘accountability forum’ for regulators. The results of a comparison of two contrasted cases – the British and Swiss competition commissions – mostly support the expectations, because they show that media coverage of IRAs corresponds to that of the most relevant policy issues and follows the regulatory cycle. Furthermore, a systematic bias in media coverage can be excluded.

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