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Regulatory Choice for Alternative Modes of Regulation: How Context Matters



    Corresponding author
    1. Division on Media Change & Innovation at IPMZ–Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research of the University of Zurich, Switzerland
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  • This article builds on a comparative research project on international co- and self-regulation in communications markets commissioned by OFCOM. I wish to thank my collaborators Michael Latzer, Stefaan G. Verhulst, and Monroe E. Price for their valuable contributions.

Florian Saurwein, IPMZ–Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, Andreasstrasse 15, CH-8050 Zurich, Switzerland. Telephone: +41 (0)44 635 20 85; E-mail:


The growing role of alternative modes of regulation (self- and co-regulation) gives rise to major questions about regulatory choice between available governance mechanisms. Strategic policy instruments such as regulatory impact assessment guidelines (RIA) typically suggest assessing the suitability of alternative modes of regulation but they hardly specify assessment criteria. This article identifies contextual factors that should be included in any effort to predict when alternative regulatory arrangements are likely to emerge and to be effective. To demonstrate the value of the approach, it is applied to an analysis of self-regulation in the domain of content-rating in the audiovisual industry.