Tuesday, December 1, 2009

FTC Will Team With FCC To Vet Journalism's Future

By John Eggerton

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz says the commission will hold workshops in the spring on possible policy changes to help save journalism.

They could include taxes, cross-ownership issues, changes in copyright laws, and antitrust treatment.

That came in the kickoff to "How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?," a two-day Federal Trade Commission workshop prompted by the declining fortunes of print--and broadcast--journalism and the rise of the Internet.

Leibowitz said the FTC would work closely with the FCC on those issues and whether the government will need to step in, and how.

Leibowitz said that the commission was not out to undo the profound changes wrought on journalism by the Internet, "nor do we want to," he said. What he wants to find out, he said, is whether the "creative destruction" brought about by the Internet's impact on journalism represents more destruction than creation for journalism and what, if anything, the government needs to do about it.

He said it was appropriate for the FTC to investigate because of its competition and consumer protection policy interest, including the impact of behavioral advertising journalism organizations are using to increase ad revenue online, but also because of its role in recommending policy to Congress.

Interest Groups Speak Out Against Impending Comcast/NBCU Meld

Media Access Project, Free Press among those opposed

Calling it "the most important media merger since Lucy met Desi," Media Access Project President Andrew Schwartzman says that his group will oppose the meld of NBCU and Comcast.

"No entity should have control over such a large audience," he said in a statement following news that GE and Vivendi had come to an agreement on the purchase of Vivendi's stake in the company that would pave the way for that merger.

Shwartzman said that he was particularly concerned about the effects of the merger on distribution of online video.

Free Press also expressed its strong opposition, but that came as no surprise, since it already has a web site up and running to try to block the deal.

"Washington and Wall Street want the public to think this is a done deal. But it's time for policymakers to stop putting the narrow interests of big corporations ahead of what's best for the American people," said Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver in response to the news of the Vivendi/GE agreement.

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