The economic threat to newspapers has become dire enough the federal government is intervening, beginning with exploratory workshops to be held by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC just held a two-day forum for media executives "looking for a new business model for an industry that is watching traditional advertising revenue dry up, without online revenue growing quickly enough to replace it," the Associated Press reports.
"Government officials want to protect a critical pillar of democracy -- a free press. News is a public good," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. 'We should be willing to take action if necessary to preserve the news that is vital to democracy.'"
With the federal government on the side of declining newspapers, who is it likely to be "against?"
AP reports: "Among the options being discussed: Tax law changes that would allow media companies to earn tax credits or become tax-exempt entities, and copyright law changes that would force search engines and other online aggregators to compensate media companies for the content they produce."
"Also on the table is a proposed change in antitrust rules to allow newspapers to jointly negotiate payments from Web sites that use their content. The FTC is planning more workshops in the spring to discuss in greater depth the ideas that emerge this week."
The mills of the gods have begun to grind.