FTC vs. Freedom of the Press

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Glenn Reynolds points to a piece by a blogger at the Los Angeles Times titled, "Obama's FTC plan to reinvent America's news media." The piece describes a proposed industry-wide "reinvention" by the government that makes mere "bailouts" of newspapers sound like child's play:

Would you believe: major changes to the copyright law, including government licensing provisions; government pilot programs to investigate potential new media business models, antitrust changes to allow media companies to unite on imposing online pay walls, establish a journalism division of AmeriCorps with government underwriting the training of young journalists, tax incentives per news employee, increased funding of public broadcasting, a 5% tax on consumer electronics and/or assessments on users of public airwaves.
Mark Tapscott, writing for the Washington Examiner, urges fellow journalists to "wake up" and paints an even more lurid picture. He characterizes this effort as follows:
[One] cannot deny is what is clearly written in the FTC document and what it reveals about the intention behind the initiative, which is to transform the news industry from an information product collected by private individuals and entrepreneurs as a service to private buyers, to a government-regulated public utility providing a "public good," as defined and regulated by government.
This, he astutely notes, will be excused as "an extension of what government has always done via postal subsidies, tax breaks, and so forth."

The FTC document in question (PDF) is a working paper titled, "Federal Trade Commission Staff Discussion Draft: Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism."

-- CAV

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