I don’t think there would be any enthusiasm in news rooms or in Canberra for government subsidies to go to newspapers. There is, however, the precedent of the public broadcasters, but their funding is entirely from government, locked in over a long term and buttressed by a strong culture of independence.
However, there would be some merit in considering whether some level of support could be given, in terms of deductible gift recipient status, to not-for-profit newspapers that committed to a code of conduct analogous perhaps to that subscribed to by the ABC.
I simply pose this as something to consider – at this stage the Coalition is looking for ways to cut expenditure, but in the interests of looking beyond the next few weeks or even next election, we should be looking hard at how we ensure the survival of journalism.
Yes, well – I’m not sure the idea of expanding ABC values to the print media will become Coalition policy. We’re only a short hop, skip and an jump from the idea of subsidy to ownership. Certainly expanded government ownership of the media is a very bad idea – especially in the print media.
… countries with greater state ownership of the media have less free press, fewer political rights for citizens, inferior governance, less developed capital markets, and inferior health outcomes (the last result being particularly important in light of the argument that state ownership of the media serves the needs of the poor). The negative association between government ownership and political and economic freedom is stronger for newspapers than for television. Although none of this evidence can be unambiguously interpreted as causal, it obtains with extensive controls and there is no empirical evidence of any “benefits” of state ownership.
Australia already has newspapers that don’t earn a profit and I’m not sure that sort of thing should be encouraged. For people who can demonstrate a business need newspaper subscriptions are tax-deductible while Foxtel subscriptions are not (I use my Foxtel subscription to watch the news channels). So we already have something along the lines of gifts to the print media. At the same time, I suspect the government is the single largest advertiser in the country and so is a major client of the media already. All up while the need for good journalism is apparent, it’s up the media itself to come up with viable business models – government has no special role to play.