“We believe local news reporting should become one of public media’s top priorities,” said Free Press Managing Director Craig Aaron, one of the paper’s co-authors. “We should redeploy and redouble our resources to keep a watchful eye on the powerful and to reliably examine the vital issues that most Americans can’t follow closely on their own.”
The paper notes that the United States spends just $1.43 per person in federal money on public media — a small fraction of what is spent by other leading nations.
In the paper, Free Press urges the creation of a trust fund seeded with a substantial endowment to supplement annual congressional appropriations and ultimately to enable the system to be completely self-sufficient.
Free Press proposes a number of ways to support such a trust, including spectrum fees, a spectrum auction, a small tax on advertising, changes to the way advertising is treated in the tax code, or a small assessment on consumer electronic devices.
“Increasing funding for public media is critical, but we also need a series of reforms that will prevent undue political influence over content and ensure that public media are well run, more diverse and worthy of greater support,” said Candace Clement of Free Press, a co-author of the paper. “Any of these changes will require going outside the Beltway and actually engaging local communities.”
Read New Public Media: A Plan for Action: http://www.freepress.net/files/New_Public_Media.doc.pdf
The paper will be officially released on May 11 at the Free Press Policy Summit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The summit is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For more information, go to www.freepress.net/summit
Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net