Thursday, September 27, 2012

Will taxation save the 'quality' press

From the various comments online the answer is no, and that it is a stupid idea. But this is not an off the wall idea from someone who knows nothing about our media industry. Guardian executive investigations editor David Leigh has suggested a £2 a month broadband levy should be imposed on all households to save newspapers from the effect of falling print circulations, so basically as the television licence protects the BBC, this tax would protect print journalism. His argument is that as consumers will not pay for content, an argument that was lost some time ago, the only option is to collect the tax via broadband providers (stand by for a price rise and administration cost to coincide with this if ever enacted). 

The question, however, is will it save print journalism; or rather can print journalism be saved? Print has a problem. It cannot compete with rolling news but tries to through online rolling news, so undermining its own product. The print version is more portable (though iPad or kindle versions make some media more portable than others), but is is convenient? Print can deliver a greater level of analysis than is often the case with straight news bulletins and most news programmes outside to the BBC stable, a point Ivor Gaber noted during analysis of the coverage of the leader's debates during the 2010 UK General Election, but does it? Basically is print journalism providing a product that is desired by the 21st Century consumer, or are they thinking from within a bubble where they are worthy, the fourth estate, and so needing protection? 

I personally can see both sides of the argument but would be interested in the views of readers.