June 11, 2010
The FTC is running for cover in the wake of reports it plans to tax websites and electronic devices in order to rescue dead tree dinosaur corporate media. FTC head honcho Jon Leibowitz nixed the proposals during testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, reports the Washington Times. “I think that’s a terrible idea,” said Leibowitz when asked about the taxes on Wednesday.
|FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.|
Earlier in the week a Rasmussen Reports poll revealed overwhelming opposition to the scheme. Three out of four of respondents opposed taxing electronic devices and approximately the same amount opposed the so-called Drudge tax on popular alternative news websites.
“The American people have absolutely no interest in taxing new media or consumer electronics to prop up an industry that’s clearly on its way out,” Rasmussen noted. “Just 19% think the government should get actively involved in steps to save the newspaper industry and other forms of traditional journalism. Sixty percent (60%) oppose government involvement in such activities. Twenty-one percent (21%) arenâ€™t sure if itâ€™s a good idea or not.”
The number of Americans opposed to a government “bailout” of the dying newspaper industry has increased since early last year. “Seventy-one percent (71%) oppose a government bailout of the newspaper industry like the ones for the financial sector and the automobile industry, up from 65% in March of last year. Only 14% say a government bailout of the newspaper business is a good idea.”
After the Washington Times reported on the scheme on June 4, the FTC denied it is pushing for new taxes on media. “It’s merely trying to decide if — not when or how — it should ever take regulatory action as part of its mission to protect consumers and competition,” explained Ed O’Keefe writing for the Washington Post.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The FTC claims these ideas were then compiled in a “discussion draft.” The latest Washington Times editorial, however, disputes this. “In fact, the agency’s Federal Register announcement for the proceeding questioned the propriety of news-aggregator websites that ‘do not pay for content’ — this document was filed long before public hearings were held.”
Moreover, Mr. Leibowitz has held such ideas in the past. Before joining the FTC, he was vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America, an organization that defends an extreme view of copyright law in order to prop up Hollywood’s increasingly obsolete business model. At a December workshop, Mr. Leibowitz complained that online news readers get a “free ride instead of paying the full value — or in fact paying anything — for what they’re consuming,” notes the Times.
It is no secret the government wants to control if not eliminate the alternative media and throw support and tax payer money behind an effort to support a corporate media that has faithfully acted as a propaganda outlet.
As the Times notes, Obama has a penchant for ignoring the will of the people and pushing unpopular legislation such as his health care “reform” and other control and tax schemes such as cap and trade (currently in trouble in Congress, mostly due to strong opposition).
The FTC plan will not go away. It will simply morph into another scheme or be shelved until the government feels it has a chance to shove it down the throats of the American people. In the meantime, the old dead tree corporate media will continue to die, as will the corporate media television news networks.