NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 8, 2010

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been nosing around how to save journalism and in its just-posted "staff discussion draft" on "potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism," it makes its bias clear.  The FTC defines journalism as what newspapers do and aligns itself with protecting the old power structure of media, says the Business Insider.  

There are four major policy ideas presented in the document, says the Insider. 

Antitrust exemptions: 

  • The FTC looks at allowing news organizations to collude to set prices to consumers and with aggregators.
  • That is the precise opposite of what an agency charged with protecting competition for the benefit of customers should be considering. 

Government subsidies: 

  • Increased funding for public broadcasting; a national fund for local news suggested in Columbia's report on journalism; a tax credit for employing journalists; citizen news vouchers; and grants to universities for reporting.
  • It also looks at increasing the present postal subsidy; using Voice of America and Radio Free Europe content in the U.S.; and enabling the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help nonprofits. 


  • The FTC looks at licensing the news: having Internet service providers (ISPs) levy a fee that the government then doles out to its selected news purveyors -- call that the internet tax.
  • In another section, it examines the iPad tax; a tax on the broadcast spectrum; a spectrum auction tax; a tax on ISPs and cell phones; and a tax on advertising. 

New tax status: 

  • The document spends much space looking at ways to make journalism a tax-exempt activity and suggests the IRS should change its regulations to enable that.
  • It also looks at changing tax law to enable hybrid corporations ("benefit" and "flexible purpose" corporations that can judge success on serving a mission and not just maximizing profits). 

Source: Jeff Jarvis, "The Government Wants To Save Newspapers and Media Moguls," Business Insider, May 29, 2010. 

For text: 

For FTC document: 


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