Keeping with the report’s findings that it is local news that needs the most repair, the authors suggest that government advertising money—for things such as army recruitment, census compliance—be directed more strongly towards local broadcasters. In 2005, the report notes, the government spent $1 billion on such advertising and it generally went to big national entertainment media. Float this down to the local level and it will be a healthy injection.

Make It Easier for Nonprofit Media to Develop Sustainable Models

The report puts a large bulk of the responsibility for saving the news media on nonprofits, and seeks to make it easier to those nonprofits to operate effectively. Complicated sections of the tax code that seem to arbitrarily decide what news operations qualify as nonprofit need to be cleared up, argues the report. In this same section, the report authors praise the work of journalism schools that have adopted a “medical residency” model—having students actually report as they learn how to—and suggests that foundations and philanthropists funnel money into such programs.

It’s here too that the authors address the CPB, issuing one of the report’s strongest statements: “this would be precisely the wrong time to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” One of the more specific recommendations regarding the CPB is that none of its beneficiaries should be allowed to have more than 15 percent of their revenues come from it. The idea being that the limit would prevent the state from exerting pressure on the media.

Ensure that Broadband is Widespread Enough to Fuel Digital Media Innovation

Here the authors make the argument for universal broadband—both to provide access to the community and to provide a stronger business base for the media. Universal access means larger potential audiences, after all, and more reason to innovate. The FCC report also suggests that the government “consider the central role of public libraries” here, as, rather than be made obsolete by new technologies, the library has become central to them: a place where the poor and unplugged can utilize and learn to utilize modern communications technologies that will keep them better informed.


FCC Report: THE INFORMATION NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES