An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
FEDERAL TAX SUBSIDIES to the media no doubt began with the best of intentions but they promise to end badly.
Eight news organizations have been invited to sit on a panel to decide which media outlets will be eligible for support valued in total at $595 million. Apparently, the people who consume the news don’t qualify for this group.
How a panel made up entirely of representatives from the industry that’s going to get the lolly is supposed to be impartial, I have no idea. Certainly, the media should be represented, but not to the exclusion of the public
Accusations that the Liberals are trying to buy off the media with these subsidies in hopes the government will get favourable news coverage ahead of the October election are somewhat ridiculous. Respectable media don’t work that way and, if I know anything about the media, if anything they’d be more inclined to be extra critical to ensure the appearance of independence.
But that doesn’t make the idea of subsidies any more palatable. If the mainstream media are to survive, they should be doing it on their own without bailouts. Let them provide the kind of product people want. Let them explore new business models that bring in the public as full partners.
A free, responsible and healthy press is more important now than ever. But giving them hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits and incentives — and letting the media themselves decide who will be eligible — isn’t the way to get there.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.