Government Media Funding = Government Media Control – Oberfeld

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Harvey Oberfeld

Keeping it Real…

PSR Contributor

Monday February the 6th, 2017

 

 

Canada’s media giants are crying the blues … again ….  even going after taxpayer CASH funding, all the while running up profits in the millions of dollars.

And using their own staffs as fodder in the battle for breaks and bucks … again …. killing off even more media jobs … and threatening even more … unless a ransom is paid.

But direct public funding of private media would make things even worse … not better.

A report by the Public Policy Forum …. a think tank largely funded by the federal government …  last week called for a new federally funded agency that would hand out up to $400 million a year to news operations to improve their local news coverage. You can read about that HERE

What better way for politicians and government to influence news coverage! Fund it!!!!

Does anyone really believe news organizations receiving federal funds ….. especially funding that is annually “reviewed” …would not be affected in deciding what and how to cover issues that even remotely could be linked back to government policies and parties … whether social, environmental, health, financial and even partisan politics?

With so much of Canada’s media owned by huge corporations and multi-millionaire owners who not only benefit from tax breaks and generous write-offs,  but also hand out large contributions to politicians and parties, many Canadians are already convinced big business links, donations and political partisanship play too large a role in what is covered in the news and how…. and also what is NOT covered and why.

Direct funding from the government in power, using taxpayers’ dollars, to media outlets would make that even worse.

And I personally don’t believe it’s just a coincidence that, at the same time this latest report was released and government attention was being directed to a “crisis” in deteriorating local news coverage across the country, a number of media giants announced or proceeded with more job cuts.

Postmedia last week began issuing layoff notices job at the Montreal Gazette, and Ottawa Citizen …with others to come soon at the Windsor Star … all part of a Postmedia plan that union officials say has seen 3,000 jobs cut in the past six years.

Torstar, the Globe and Mail and Bell Media have also announced more layoffs …. continuing a trend that began years ago.

To say  the quality of their products have not been affected by all the cuts and downsizing is putting it mildly.

They should not be surprised or avoid the truth: any subsequent drops in readership/circulation/revenues are THEIR fault …not the public’s.

And yet, ALL continue to report PROFITS in the MILLIONS!

I believe these latest moves are pressure tactics by media bosses trying to influence the House of Commons’ heritage committee, which is currently considering the state of newspapers in Canada.

There should be NO direct government cash to these media conglomerates: existing tax rules already allow them generous write-offs for expansion and hiring, to increase corporate welfare.

If they want MORE readers , they should improve and expand their offerings/coverage … including FREE on-line access to all articles … which would generate more visits, and more advertising, both in print, on apps and on-line.

In fact, The Tyee recently offered what I would describe as a decent plan on how to improve local newspaper coverage right HERE in BC:

Much better than government funding and government influence.

Harv Oberfeld

 

 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. If the newspapers want to stop losing subscribers and improve their coverage, the best way for them to start:

    1 – Stop leaning Left. They need to see what’s happening with the liberal media in the US and elsewhere and realize this could also be their fate if they don’t put an end to parroting their fake news (as broadcast on CNN, MSNBC et al. and published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, the Huffington Post, etc.).
    2 – Break up Big Media ownership of newspapers (i.e. Postmedia, Torstar, Black Press, etc.) and sell them off to local buyers. Concentration of media ownership is a big part of what led to this mess in the first place.

  2. The advice for newspapers is “too little, too late.” Most of them will be done like dinner, within 10 to 15 years.

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