FTC to the rescue

The Federal Trade Commission announced that it is holding hearings on the future of the news business and that made me scratch my head and so I called the head of the office of policy planning t here, Susan DeSanti, and asked why. She said the FTC is concerned with protecting consumers and competition and newspapers have a role in that and so if they’re in trouble, the FTC is paying attention. The agendas aren’t set but we’ll keep an eye on it.

  • I guess it is time for the government to support the media to be sure that the “official” story continues to be told. Are you journalists going to wait at your papers and tell the “official” story or break loose and become independent to do what your passion is – to elucidate the truth to your audience.

  • Don

    Francis Cianfrocca argues that mass media news is tyranny’s public relations apparatus.

    …if you look into the earnest faces of the icons of broadcast journalism (from Jim Lehrer all the way down to George Stephanopoulos), what you’ll never see is laughter. These are people who honestly believe they’re the arbiters of truth and objectivity.

    Professional journalism no longer serves the market created by local and classified advertising. They do, however, have another critically important constituency: the government in Washington. The politicians and bureaucrats who control our lives depend on nationally-prominent journalists in a fundamental way. Because it’s impossible to observe its activities closely without seeing the deep corruption that animates it at every turn, populist government is only sustainable when abetted by a national press that is at once sycophantic to its power and respected by the people.

    The kind of journalism that inhabits the New York Times, the Washington Post, the major broadcast-news organizations and CNN will not disappear. The government needs it too much, because national news is how the government does its PR. As the media business embarks on a bruising process of transformation, professional journalists will become a fourth branch of government in reality as well as in their own minds. Somehow, but inevitably, today’s mainstream news organizations will become government-sponsored entities funded with taxpayer dollars.

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  • FTC-type questions:

    1. Do national and regional chains somehow conspire to control national advertising, denying local papers opportunities to sell such space?

    2. Are the four major broadcast networks and the three national cable networks somehow price fixing or violating anti-trust laws?

    3. Do national papers, wire services and networks somehow keep smaller competitors out of the business in ways that violate the law?

    4. Do owners of suburban chains control metro markets in violation of anti-trust laws?

    5. Is Nielson a monopoly in violation of anti-trust law? Think Microsoft or Intel.

    6. Do bloggers and other web sites represent competition for traditional news outlets or not?

    7. Have big retailers (Walmart, Costco, Target, Kohl’s, etc.) so consolidated that the have driven local advertisers out of biz, undermining local media?

    8. Do organizations that self publish on the web somehow violate restraint of trade or anti-trust laws by not talking to the “media”?

    10. Are papers that are the only games in town in violation of anti-trust laws? The FTC has lost attempts to breakup integrated health systems that control as little as 30% to 60% of local markets, but that wouldn’t keep them from trying the same approach in the media industry.

    11. The FTC may be targeting a few large companies like News Corp., which publishes conservative papers.

    All of these are stretches. The FTC is notorious for its stretches.

  • Nuts. I can count! :)

  • If you want some informed speculation, a few legal blogs might have something to say about the FTC and the media. If I were a reporter, I’d call a few Washington lawyers who specialize in dealing with the FTC.

    Some would talk on the record, others not for attribution. And not a few would write an article for you.

  • Great project for an entrepreneurial journalism seminar.

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