Tag Archives: fairness doctrine

Goodbye Unbiased Journalism. Thanks FTC

They say history repeats itself. Guess they were right.

Did you hear about the recent FTC discussion draft released the last week of May, 2010 –  whose headline reads:


No? I urge you to download it and read it now – here is a direct link.

The first four pages of this document lay the foundation for what the FTC is going to implement recommend — reminding us that newspapers have been struggling with funding since the internet (specifically small news sites with less than 15 journalists) took their advertising revenue away. They wrap this section up by stating…

Although dozens of newly created online news sites have found sufficient funds to keep going through the early years of their existence, virtually no sites have yet found a sustainable business model that would allow them to survive without some form of funding from non-profit sources.

That’s a shame.

Fortunately, our wonderful government has a solution. Since it’s this evil system of capitalism that makes journalists biased and unfair in their reporting, why not have

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT funded journalism?

I mean, really, what could possibly go wrong with that?!  (you might want to search for the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 from these unbiased sources to find out.) The government even makes a great case for the funding:

The news is a “public good” in economic terms…and non-excludable (once the news producer supplies anyone, it cannot exclude anyone)…consumer demand for public affairs reporting in particular may be suboptimal, because citizens may decide their votes are unlikely to make a difference and therefore may choose to be “rationally ignorant” of public affairs.

…newspapers have not yet found a new, sustainable business model, and there is reason for concern that such a business model may not emerge. Therefore, it is not too soon to start considering policies that might encourage innovations to help support journalism into the future.

Too bad all the other businesses across the country can’t get this same, non-profit funding, since they’ve most certainly also felt the effect of internet competition. I guess they’ll just have to re-invent their business model (like we’ve always done in the past) in order to compete.

Maybe the reason no sustainable business model is occurring for many newspapers is that the reporting is CRAP. Apparently, soon to be federally funded CRAP.

Why this matters to anyone who uses the internet.

Because we’re all about to get this shoved down our throat – and it ‘s going to cost us all. If these ‘proposals’ get implemented, free content and FREE SPEECH will be a thing of the past.

…Thus, this speaker suggests amending the copyright laws to create a content license fee (perhaps $5.00 to $7.00) to be paid by every Internet Service Provider on eaaccount it provides. He suggests creating a new division of the Copyright Office, whwould operate under streamlined procedures and would collect and distribute thesefees. Copyright owners who elect to participate would agree to periodically submit records of their digitized download records to the Copyright Office….Nonetheless, a compulsory license places an effective tax on certain conduct

or perhaps:

Establish Citizenship News Vouchers. Citizenship news vouchers would allow every American tax payer to allocate some amount of government funds to the non-profit media organization of their choice

or maybe:

Provide grants to universities to conduct investigative journalism…if the nation’s 200,000 journalism and mass communications students spent 10 percent of their time doing actual journalism, that would more than make up for all the traditional media jobs that have been lost in the past 10 years…

Oh yeah. Because we know how impartial college students and their professors are at public universities.
Now these are just some options, mind you. Other, more ‘reasonable’ solutions suggested are:

Establish a “journalism” division of AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is the federal program that places young people with nonprofits to get training and do public service work.  According to proponents, this proposal would help to ensure that young people who love journalism will stay in the field. “It strikes us as a win-win; we get more journalists covering our communities, and young journalists have a chance to gain valuable experience…

…Increase funding for the CPB (corporation for public broadcasting)…Public radio and television should be substantially reoriented to provide significant local news reporting in every community served by public stations and their Web sites. This requires urgent action by and reform of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, increased congressional funding and support for public media news reporting, and changes in mission and leadership for many public stations across the country

I bolded out the areas I think you need to read again. Did you know NPR is being funded with a $2 million grant from the CPB (your tax dollars) and $1 million from the Knight Foundation to ‘develop in-depth, local coverage on topics critical to communities and the nation’. You can read more about the completely UNBIASED (*koff koff*) Knight Foundation here.  The president and CEO of NPR explained that this project will:

…beef up local online content at the station level” and will be done in “partnership with other public media players [and] new not-for-profits….

New, not-for-profits, eh?…. Has anyone besides me noticed how many ‘new, not-for-profit’ sites have been popping up lately? And by ‘not-for-profit’, we’re talking about the much reviled 501(c)(3) organizations. That is -

charitable, educational, religious, scientific, or literary purposes, to foster national or international sports competition, to prevent cruelty to animals or children, or to test for public safety. News gathering and reporting is not specifically listed as a tax-exempt purpose…

You WILL read or watch the news we tell you to.

Funding all this crap is bad enough. But they can’t force you to actually watch or listen to it. I’ll just keep watching and listening to the channels and radio stations I want to hear my news from.

No you won’t. Enter the ‘Citizenship Media Fund.’

This benevolent government entity will Tax, tax, tax those companies out of existence.

Tax on broadcast spectrum. They argue “commercial radio and television broadcasters are given monopoly rights to extremely lucrative spectrum at no charge,” and this is a massive public subsidy. They therefore suggest the revenues generated by that spectrum be taxed at a rate of 7 percent, which should result in a fund of between $3 and $6 billion. In exchange, commercial broadcasters would be relieved of any obligations to engage in “public-interest programming,” which the broadcasters claim costs them $10 billion annually…

Yeah, they tried to shove this tax into the ‘Fairness Doctrine‘ but failed. If at first you don’t succeed….

Tax on consumer electronics. A 5 percent tax on consumer electronics would generate approximately $4 billion annually.

Spectrum auction tax. They suggest there be a tax on the auction sales prices for commercial communication spectrum, with the proceeds going to the public-media fund.

Advertising taxes. They note a considerable amount of our broadcast spectrum has been turned over to disseminating commercial advertisements, and a 2 percent sales tax on advertising would generate approximately $5 to $6 billion annually. In addition, they suggest that changing the tax write-off of all advertising as a business expense in a single year to a write-off over a 5-year period would generate an additional $2 billion per year.

ISP-cell phone tax. They suggest consumers could pay a small tax on their monthly ISP-cell phone bills to fund content they access on their digital services. A tax of 3 percent on the monthly fees would generate $6 billion annually. They note, however, this is the least desirable approach because demand for these services is “elastic” and even a slight rise in price could result in people dropping the service.

so who decides this crap?

we’ll talk about that in the next post. Til then….