6/03/2010

FTC offers more intervention in the media as a way to save it

The FTC's proposals are pretty dangerous for they will make the media more dependent on government and thus presumably less willing to criticize government. Taxing iPads will make alternative ways of doing things independently of the government. The 47 page document is here.

The Federal Trade Commis sion says it wants to save journalism. I'm not sure who asked it to.
In a just-released "staff discussion draft" of "potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism," the agency only circles its wagons around old newspapers and their fading business models.
If the FTC wants to reinvent journalism, perhaps it should align with news' disruptors. But there's none of that in this report. The word blog is used but once in 35 pages of text--and then only in a parenthetical mention of soccer blogs. Discussion of investing in technology comes on the last page in a suggestion about tools for "improved electronic note-taking."
Instead, the FTC staff declares defeat in the search for business models so it may explore many government interventions, including:
* Expanding copyright law and restricting the doctrine of fair comment to benefit legacy publishers.
* Granting antitrust exemptions to allow publishers to collude on pricing to consumers and to business partners.
* Giving news organizations tax exemptions.
* Subsidizing news organizations by increasing government funding to public broadcasting; establishing an AmeriCorps to pay reporters; giving news companies tax credits for employing journalists; creating a national fund for local news, and giving the press an increased postal subsidy.
To its credit, the FTC does ask how to pay for all this. So the staffers speculated about what I'll dub the iPad tax -- a 5 percent surcharge on consumer electronics to raise $4 billion for news. They also consider a tax on broadcast spectrum and even on advertising. . . .


Fox News summarizes the study here.

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