Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Gearing Up for Media Reform

I was wondering whether any of you care to share your thoughts on the best funding approach for the news media. In America, the default developed pretty much shortly after the development of radio that the airwaves belonged to the public and yet licenses are granted to allow private control over the flow of information. The US government gives paltry sums to PBC (through the CPB) and NPR, but the amount is truly negligible. This is contrasted with the BBC model, where until recently the government had direct control over content and, I would suspect, subsidized the production of this content heavily (although admittedly I do not know whether and how much of BBC's funding is derived from commercial sources).

Some people would argue that government funding or too much participation by the government raises serious constitutional (First Amendment) concerns. Even if the government did not directly act as a censor, this would be the inevitable result every time the funding were debated in Congress. But all the same, I think it is indispensible that there is at least one reliable and independent source of news (and I do credit PBS/NPR as that source now) and it should be entirely funded by our tax dollars. Surely this is not a panacea, but one source that has adequate funding to investigate and report on tough issues is a good place to start. Do you agree?

No comments: