The Federal Trade Commission today announced it will hold a series of workshops titled “Can News Media Survive the Internet Age? Competition, Consumer Protection, and First Amendment Perspectives.” The first workshop will be held on September 15, 2009.
The news industry is in transition. Newspapers have lost much of their classified advertising revenues to online services, and some question how they will weather the development of targeted behavioral and other online advertising, online news aggregators, and other factors. How cable, broadcast, and other news organizations will respond to similar challenges is under discussion. Some predict that in a few years, television and radio will find themselves in situations similar to those facing newspapers.
“Many industries have experienced transitions to new business models in response to new forms of competition on the Internet, and consumers generally have benefitted in the process,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz explained. “But the news business may be different because of the First Amendment values at stake. Whether we get our news from ink on paper, TV, radio, laptops, or mobile devices, we need a strong news industry for our democracy to thrive. Bringing together competition, consumer protection, and First Amendment perspectives can help all of us understand how best to serve Americans’ interests given the new realities affecting news organizations.”
The workshops will consider a wide range of issues, including possible business and non-profit models for news organizations, the role of targeted behavioral and other online advertising, whether additional, limited antitrust exemptions may be necessary under these unique circumstances, and the implications of online news for both copyright protection and the availability of broadband access. Witnesses will include journalists and other representatives of news organizations, privacy experts, direct marketers, online advertisers, academics, new media representatives (such as bloggers and local news Web sites), and consumer advocates. An agenda for the September 15, 2009 workshop will be circulated at a later time.
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