Parts 3 & 4 Address Government News Vouchers and Postal Subsidies to Prop Up Media Outlets
WASHINGTON D.C. — The Progress & Freedom Foundation released the latest installments in their ongoing series on "The Wrong Way to Reinvent Media." The series of papers explores various tax and regulatory proposals, which would have the government play an expanded role in supporting the press, journalism, or other media content. Part 3, which was released last week, addressed proposals surrounding "public interest vouchers." Part 4, released today, addresses increased postal subsidies.
Part 3 considers whether it is possible to steer citizens toward so-called "hard news" ("serious" journalism)—and get them to financially support it—through the use of "news vouchers" or "public interest vouchers." Authors Adam Thierer, PFF President, and Berin Szoka, PFF Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Internet Freedom, argue that "using the tax code to nudge people to support media—while less problematic than direct subsidies for the press—will likely raise serious issues regarding eligibility and be prone to political meddling." Moreover, they add, "the scheme is unlikely to succeed in encouraging people to direct more resources to hard news and will likely instead become a method of subsidizing other media content they already consume."
In Part 4, Thierer and Szoka discuss an idea favored by a number of media scholars and advocacy groups: expanding postal subsidies as a method of assisting struggling media enterprises. In their view, "The revisionist histories penned by some of these scholars would have us believe the Founding Fathers were practically media Marxists, enthralled with public subsidization of the press. Of course, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Just because they provided a modest postal subsidy for press materials doesn't mean the Founders believed that government should be micromanaging or massively subsiding this sector." They conclude that expanded postal subsidies would not do much to help prop up struggling media enterprises, while further burdening the Postal Service, which is already facing staggering losses. It would also have the perverse incentive of propping up an old, less efficient form of media distribution.
The ideas within these and other essays in the series will be worked into a major PFF filing in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proceeding on the "Future of Media" on May 7th.
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The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.