EDITORIAL: FTC floats Drudge tax

EDITORIAL: FTC floats Drudge tax
EDITORIAL: FTC floats Drudge tax 

By The Washington Times
June 4, 2010

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking ways to "reinvent" 
journalism, and that's a cause for concern. According to a May 24 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. 
Fostering a robust public-policy debate, not saving a particular 
business model, should be the goal of journalism in the first place.


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