Under the Chairmanship of Michael Powell, the FCC has begun to reexamine the basic structure of federal radio regulation that has persisted since the early part of the twentieth century. In 2002, Powell formed the Spectrum Policy Task Force (SPTF) to conduct a systematic review of existing policy and potential alternative approaches. The SPTF engaged a raging academic debate about the basic theoretical models available to the FCC as it thinks about spectrum management. It identified and evaluated three regulatory approaches that have gained currency among scholars and policy leaders: command-andcontrol, exclusive rights, and open spectrum. This essay examines the SPTF’s formulation of the “Great Spectrum Debate.” Part I examines the SPTF’s conceptual framework in light of its larger historical and intellectual context. Part II evaluates the normative implications of this framework and identifies some limitations. Ultimately, the essay concludes that although the SPTF’s framework is a useful tool for making sense of radically different approaches to spectrum management, theoretical deficiencies prevent it from reaching its full potential.