Krugman on media ownership

Paul Krugman's Op-Ed in the NYT,The China Syndrome, is worthy of your attention.

State regulation of the media need not necessarily mean the media playing sycophant to the government of the day, unregulated and uncontrolled media need not degenerate to Jerry Springer treatment of news output. Both extremes are anathema to those with an interest in retaining or creating a media which serves as the fourth estate, a necessary check and balance on government.

If however we desire an impartial media which presents a diverse range of views and does serve some greater good, then we must also realise that it must be funded somehow. No business can propser which does not seek to profit from the activity which it undertakes. If therefore we are to expect a commitment to impartiality in the media, and if we expect businesses to operate in the media sector, there has to be a hard economic reason for a business to deliver that - a license to operate in a regulated environment is enough of an opportunity for profit? a subsidy? tax breaks? a UK like license fee? Maybe one or none of these but whatever solution is found it has to be coupled with public demand.

Loosening restrictions on media ownership will lessen significant plurality in the media and will erode media diversity thus strengthening the voice of the majority and sidelining minorities: an undesirable outcome.

Good stuff at Lessig on this.

It's not particularly relevant but in the column Krugman comments that the fairness and balance of Fox News host Neil Cavuto was in question after he said of those who opposed the war in Iraq, "you were sickening then; you are sickening now." Cavuto's response can be summarised concisely in his own words, "may I suggest you take your column and shove it?"

Posted by Paul at May 15, 2003 01:48 AM |
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