Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
3Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Wrong Way to Reinvent Media Part 4 - Postal Subsidies [Thierer & Szoka - PFF]

Wrong Way to Reinvent Media Part 4 - Postal Subsidies [Thierer & Szoka - PFF]

Ratings: (0)|Views: 187 |Likes:
Published by Adam Thierer
Part 4 in a series of essays from the Progress & Freedom Foundation (www.PFF.org) about the dangers of proposals to have the government play a greater role in assisting media operators, supporting journalism, or expanding public media. In this installment, authors Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka address expanded postal subsidies as a method of assisting struggling media enterprises. They argue expanding postal subsidies won't likely do much to help failing media enterprises, raise the risk of greater meddling by politicians with the press, and can't be absorbed by the Postal Service without a significant increased public subsidy of its own.
Part 4 in a series of essays from the Progress & Freedom Foundation (www.PFF.org) about the dangers of proposals to have the government play a greater role in assisting media operators, supporting journalism, or expanding public media. In this installment, authors Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka address expanded postal subsidies as a method of assisting struggling media enterprises. They argue expanding postal subsidies won't likely do much to help failing media enterprises, raise the risk of greater meddling by politicians with the press, and can't be absorbed by the Postal Service without a significant increased public subsidy of its own.

More info:

Published by: Adam Thierer on Apr 21, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

04/20/2010

pdf

text

original

 
Progress on Point 
Volume 17, Issue 5 April 2010
1444 EYE STREET, NW
SUITE 500
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20005202-289-8928
The
Wrong
Way to Reinvent Media, Part 4:Expanding Postal Subsidies
by Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka*
In this ongoing series,
we‘ve been exploring various
tax and regulatory proposals that wouldhave public policymakers play a greater role in propping up the press in some way. Someacademics, advocacy groups, and government officials have suggested that steps need to betaken to assist struggling media enterprises, support news-gathering efforts, or expand publicmedia options. In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we expressed concern about proposals to impose taxes on devices, networks, or broadcast spectrum licenses to funnel money to public mediaprojects or other
“public interest” content
or objectives.
1
In Part 3,we questioned the wisdom of 
government officials creating “news vouchers” or “public interest vouchers.”
2
Other essayswill deal with taxes on advertising as a method of funding public media, and the wisdom of welfare for journalists and bailouts for media operators.A wrap-up essay will then focus on some potentially constructive policy reforms that couldassist media enterprises without a massive infusion of state support or regulation of the press.
These essays will then be cobbled together and submitted as part of PFF’s filing to
the FederalCommunications Commission (FCC) as part of its
 
proceeding (filings are dueMay 7
th
).In this essay we discuss an idea favored by a number of media scholars and advocacy groups:expanded postal subsidies as a method of assisting struggling media enterprises.
3
The
Adam Thierer is President of The Progress & Freedom Foundation. Berin Szoka is a Senior Fellow and Director
of PFF’s Center for Internet Freedom.
The views expressed in this report are their own, and are notnecessarily the views of the PFF board, fellows or staff.
1
Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka, The Progress & Freedom Foundation,
The Wrong Way to Reinvent Media, Part 1:Taxes on Consumer Electronics, Mobile Phones & Broadband 
, PFF P
ROGRESS ON
P
OINT
17.1, March 2010,www.pff.org/issues-pubs/pops/2010/pop17.1-the_wrong_way_to_reinvent_media.pdf ;Adam Thierer, TheProgress & Freedom Foundation,
The Wrong Way to Reinvent Media, Part 2: Broadcast Spectrum Taxes toSubsidize Public Media
, PFF P
ROGRESS ON
P
OINT
2
Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka, The Progress & Freedom Foundation,
The Wrong Way to Reinvent Media, Part 3:Media Vouchers
, PFF Progress on Point 17.4, April 2010, www.pff.org/issues-pubs/pops/2010/pop17.4-media_vouchers.pdf . 
3
 
See
Robert W. McChesney & John Nichols, T
HE
D
EATH AND
L
IFE OF
A
MERICAN
J
OURNALISM
(2010) at 168-9; GeoffreyCowan & David Westphal,
Public Policy and Funding the News
, USC Annenberg School for Communications &
 
Page 2 Progress on Point 17.5
revisionist histories penned by some of these scholars would have us believe the FoundingFathers were practically media Marxists, enthralled with public subsidization of the press. Of course, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Just because they provided a modest
postal subsidy for press materials doesn’t mean the Founders believed that government shouldbe micromanaging or massively subsiding this sector. The “Congress shall make no law”
language found in the First Amendment confirms that.
Can We Afford It?
Practically speaking, the idea of expanding postal subsidies at this time seems like a non-starter.The U.S. Postal Service
simply can’t
absorb the losses associated with expanded postalsubsidies.
The Washington Post 
recently note
d that, “The Postal Service is on course to lose
more than $7 billion this year, despite substantial recent cost-cutting, and it could lose morethan $238 billion by 2020. Approaching the limits of its federal credit line, the USPS mustchange drastically
or go bust.”
4
T
he U.S. Postal Service itself has noted that, “even if its plan [to
cut losses and increase revenues] was to succeed in every action that present legislation allows,the Postal Service would still face unsustainable losses of at least $115
billion by 2020.”
5
Yetthe Postal Service acknowledges
it has “an unsustainable business model” as volume and
revenues continue to plummet with no end in sight.
6
Similarly, in a recent report to Congress,the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) f 
ound that the Postal Service’s businessmodel “is not viable due to [its] inability to reduce costs sufficiently in response to continuingmail volume and revenue declines.”
7
 One cost-saving method that the Postal Service has floated is an increase in
“pr
eferred-class
pricing”
(subsidized rates for media products):Addressing the pricing of preferred mail
such as non-profit mail, Media Mail,Library Mail, and Periodicals
would ensure that these products get to a pointwhere they cover costs while contributing reasonably to overhead costs. Analternative would be appropriations funding to cover the gap.
8
 Thus, it seems clear that the Postal Service itself believes even existing postal subsidies placetoo great of a strain on an already failing system. And the GAO notes:
Journalism, R
ESEARCH
S
ERIES
, 2010, at 9, http://fundingthenews.org;Free Press, S
AVING THE
N
EWS
:
 
T
OWARD A
N
ATIONAL
J
OURNALISM
S
TRATEGY
4
 
Congress is Running Out of Time to Save the Postal Service
, T
HE
W
ASHINGTON
P
OST
5
United States Postal Service,
Ensuring a Viable Postal Service for America,
2010, at 1, www.usps.com/strategicplanning/_pdf/Ensuring_Viable_USPS_paper.pdf  
6
 
Id.
at 3.
7
United States Government Accountability Office,
U.S. Postal Service: Strategies and Options to FacilitateProgress toward Financial Viability,
GAO-10-455,
 
8
 
Id.
at 14.
 
Progress on Point 17.5 Page 3
Historically, some types of mail were designed to channel broad public goals,such as furthering the dissemination of information, the distribution of merchandise, and the advancement of nonprofit organizations. For example,Periodicals (mainly, mailed magazines and newspapers) have historically beengiven favorable rates, consistent with the view that they help bind the nationtogether,
but this class has not covered its costs for the past 13 fiscal years.…
These escalating losses have provoked growing concern and controversy 
.
9
 The report notes annual losses for the various categories of subsidized mail service and themounting costs of subsidies, as illustrated in the adjoining exhibit.
10
 As the cost of existing postal subsidies mount, it seems likely
the public wouldn’t take kindly to
the idea of being forced to foot the bill for vastly
increased 
subsidies. According to a new
Washington Post-
ABC News
 
poll, more Americans would rather give up some daily service thanpay more to the Postal Service to cover the massive losses the Postal Service is expected toincur in coming years: 71% of those polled said they favored ending Saturday deliveries while
9
 
Id 
. at 46 (emphasis added).
10
 
Id 
. at 47.

Activity (3)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 thousand reads
1 hundred reads

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->