Wither the media? (2)

Once again, this time it’s a Canadian Press report,  the media is obsessing about the media. It’s not alone,of course, politicians have a symbiotic, even an incestuous relationship with the media and the media has deep ties to Canada’s cultural and financial elites.

For my part, I will repeat myself: “I want the media to survive and even prosper. I believe that an informed electorate is central to a successful democracy and I also believe that full, open, vigorous competition in the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is the best way to “inform” the voters.

manasseh280px-Victen_Roman_muse_mosaicThe media has been around since minstrels roamed from village to village, and there has, always, been a need to pay for our information. Now, a couple of thousand years ago the minstrel was paid by a local tavern giving him a place to sleep by the fire and the other locals buying food and wine and, perhaps, tossing a copper coin his way. That form of “old media” is the one of the key foundation stones upon which our civilization rests.

The Canadian Press article says we should understand five things about the (yet another) review of Canadian media:

13510814_10153510593162234_4201988539419848556_n1. The independent Public Policy Forum review revolves around three questions: Does the deteriorating state of traditional media put at risk the civic function of journalism and thus the health of democracy? If so, are new digitally based news media filling the gap? If not, is there a role for public policy to help maintain a healthy flow of news and information, and how could it be done least intrusively?

2. Many western countries are struggling with the same issues, and significant legal and public policy battles have taken place in Germany, France and Britain, among others. U.S. copyright law allows up to 300 words to be copied online without paying the publisher or author but many European jurisdictions are still battling this out.

3. Postmedia bought out Quebecor’s 175 English-language newspaper holdings in late 2014 for $316 million to create a newspaper empire that essentially controlled all but a handful of the country’s English dailies. Postmedia laid off 90 newsroom staff at various publications in January this year as it consolidated operations under a heavy debt load. But a looming debt restructuring has credit ratings agency Moodys downgrading Postmedia, while the company says it remains committed to cutting another $80 million in costs by mid-2017. “That poses another imperative to have figured things out a bit” by next year, says Ed Greenspon of the Public Policy Forum.

4. In 2013, Google agreed to pay 60 million euros ($86 million Cdn) to help boost the Internet presence of French newspapers, who had been locked in a legal dispute with Google over copyright. Similar disputes continue, and Germany has its own word for ancillary copyright law that was passed in 2013: Leistungsschutzrecht. This February, Google won a legal fight with some 40 German publishers over its right to publish snippets of articles, without payment, in things like Google Search. Also in February, Google announced the winners of its 150 million euro ($216 million Cdn) Digital News Initiative fund in collaboration with 160 European news publishers.

5. Last month, the public British Broadcasting Corporation agreed to a $15-million Cdn deal to pay for 150 local reporters employed by local news organizations to cover municipal politics and provide their reports, including video and audio, to all local news media websites. “They will enhance local journalism, ensure greater accountability of people in public life and enable BBC audiences and newspaper readers to get better coverage of what’s really happening in their communities,” said the BBC’s director of news and current affairs.”

That’s all very interesting, I guess, but it is all trivial … completely unimportant. Nothing the government thinks, says or does about the media matters in the slightest. The Trudeau regime could nationalize the media and give us a Canadian Правда, and a free, independent media would still survive and prosper.

A separate Canadian Press report suggests that the Trudeau regimes is mulling over how to “help” the struggling print media.

500bar1jornal-financial-times-e-um-dos-mais-respeitados-do-mundo_674783The simple fact is that we, about 90% of us,anyway, want and need information and we do not want it from the government; many, arguably most of us will not really trust much of anything from the government so we will, somehow, end up, willingly, paying for information in forms ~ print, over-the-air broadcast, internet ~ and styles that make sense to us, from sources we do trust (or can understand). And we will, I repeat, pay for it.

The important question is: how more more (than necessary) will we pay because of the meddling of social justice warriors, politicians and bureaucrats?

BernierMaxime_CPCI’m neither an apologist nor a shill for Maxime Bernier, but his recent attacks on the CRTC were very well aimed and welcome by everyone who understands the nature of broadcasting in Canada. There are a couple of quite legitimate but very narrow roles for the corporate-welfare-bums-lineupCRTC related to over the air broadcast licensing … almost everything else the CRTC does, especially with regard to content regulation (over the air or on cable) and fees is a waste of time and money that ends up forcing Canadian consumers to subsidize lazy, often incompetent Canadian corporate executives.

It actually doesn’t matter who owns the “content.” We, through the engineering bureaucrats in Industry Canada, control the airwaves, and those bureaucrats have the authority to decide, based on established, transparent criteria who may or may not broadcast anything on them. What goes on a privately owned cable ought to be rather like what goes on the pages of a privately owned newspaper: a decision made by the owner who is cognizant of the laws and the public’s taste. The owners of newspapers prosper or fail by meeting (or not) the public’s appetites; the owners of cables ought to be allowed (required) to do the same.

The best regulator we can have of media content is a suite of sound, fair libel laws. The second best is our own pocketbooks: we, not the Laurentian Elites, are best equipped decide which minstrel (media outlet) we want to read, see, hear and pay.

The media will survive … not, I am about 99% certain, in exactly the ways that those Laurentian Elites or the owners and publishers hope, but in ways that will suit most of our wants and needs most of the time. The Public Policy Forum will produce a load of useless bumph; the Liberals will F201307301028393040526961use it find ways to shovel some of your and my money into the hands of their friends in the CBC and the Toronto Star, and just to be being seen to be fair, into the Sun newspaper chain and Global, too. But, inevitably, we ~ you and I, and our friends, neighbours and grandchildren ~ will decide what the “new minstrels” (print, broadcast, internet and ways I haven’t imagined) look like and how much we are willing to pay them to be informed and entertained … even when many of us don’t, quite, know or care about the difference.

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