For those who thought government licensing of journalists proposed by Michigan republican Senator Bruce Patterson is an isolated incident with no legs, consider that the Federal Trade Commission is hosting a round table to determine if the government needs to step in to save media companies and journalists:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking ways to “reinvent” journalism, and that’s a cause for concern. According to a May 28 draft proposal, the agency thinks government should be at the center of a media overhaul. The bureaucracy sees it as a problem that the Internet has introduced a wealth of information options to consumers, forcing media companies to adapt and experiment to meet changing market needs. FTC’s policy staff fears this new reality.
“There are reasons for concern that experimentation may not produce a robust and sustainable business model for commercial journalism,” the report states. With no faith that the market will work things out for the better, government thinks it must come to the rescue.
The ideas being batted around to save the industry share a common theme: They are designed to empower bureaucrats, not consumers. For instance, one proposal would, “Allow news organizations to agree jointly on a mechanism to require news aggregators and others to pay for the use of online content, perhaps through the use of copyright licenses.”
In other words, government policy would encourage a tax on websites like the Drudge Report, a must-read source for the news links of the day, so that the agency can redistribute the funds collected to various newspapers. Such a tax would hit other news aggregators, such as Digg, Fark and Reddit, which not only gather links, but provide a forum for a lively and entertaining discussion of the issues raised by the stories.
The report also discusses the possibility of offering tax exemptions to news organizations, establishing an AmeriCorps for reporters and creating a national fund for local news organizations. The money for those benefits would come from a suite of new taxes. A 5 percent tax on consumer electronic devices such as iPads, Kindles and laptops that let consumers read the news could be used to encourage people to keep reading the dead-tree version of the news. Other taxes might be levied on the radio and television spectrum, advertising and cell phones.
We’d recommend to the FTC round table that they also consider taxing individuals who happen to recommend a particular story to a friend via a text message, phone call or word of mouth. In addition, any discussion of news stories around the dinner table should be taxed appropriately, with direct withdrawal of fees to the originating news source and taxes to the AmeriNewsCorps coming out of the family bank account.
In the interest of fairness, a news organization that runs a story about a particular individual, organization or company should be required to direct a portion of advertising revenues from the report to those being reported on. It’s only fair. Wait, no… this isn’t about fairness. We’ll withhold this particular proposal because it wouldn’t make any sense.
The US government has found it necessary to nationalize banking, automobile production, real estate lending, elementary and higher education, and possibly the oil industry if Maxine Waters has her way. It only makes sense that the government get involved in the fourth estate, since controlling the first three is not yet enough. There’s too much information out there for theÂ sheeple to discern what the truth is and what they should believe in. Wouldn’t it just be easier for everyone if we had a single cohesive message originating from the White House?
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