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Will The CE Industry Subsidize The Press?

A new Federal Trade Commission discussion draft on “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism” includes, among many other proposals, a suggestion to tax consumer electronics products and another to add a tax to cellphone bills, all in the name of preserving the viability of the news media.

The document is, according to the FTC, “solely for the purposes of discussions” and nothing in it is in anyway close to being implemented, but it continues the ongoing debate over the value of content that can be accessed by devices”

According to the report, “it appears unlikely that online advertising revenues will ever be sufficient to replace the print advertising revenues that newspapers previously received.” So, according to the authors of the report, about $35 billion a year in government subsidies are needed.

Among other familiar possibilities raised to subsidize the fourth estate: spectrum auctions and advertising taxes for corporations. “Although [the proposal’s authors] recognize that convincing the government to allocate this amount of money to journalism and the news media would be extremely difficult,” the report states “this level of spending would be similar to the U.S. government’s commitment to subsidizing journalism in the first half of the 19th century,” and “the government should be willing to allocate funds to journalism as a public good.”

A PDF of the 47-page document is available here.