Former commissioner warns against news bailout


Harold Furchtgott-Roth, who served as an FCC Commissioner from 1997-2001, said that the press is supposed to act as a watchdog on government; therefore, government involvement in its funding is something that must be avoided.

Furchtgott-Roth, a Republican, has a new piece out called “A Taboo Topic: Government Subsidies for the Media,” published jointly by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and The Media Institute.

As release on the piece noted that government assistance in funding journalism is an idea that was “…unthinkable only a few years ago but is now ‘alarmingly chic’ and discussed routinely at government and private-sector conferences.”

Furchtgott-Roth said the fact that journalists keep an eye on the government make them different from other business types that have been getting government bailouts. “The line between government support and government control is impossible to determine.”

He noted that government involvement with the press is a sign of dysfunctional governments, not one that is freely elected. “Every repressive regime in the world today controls some part of its national media and censors the rest,” he said. “As a country, we are richer with an impoverished but independent media than we are with more affluent but government-influenced media.”