Waxman Says Government Will Be Involved in Newspapers’ Future

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman said the government will “help resolve” the newspaper industry’s economic woes.

“Government is going to be involved one way or the other,” Waxman told a U.S. Federal Trade Commission workshop today in Washington on the future of journalism. Newspapers, with declining revenue and circulation, are facing a “market failure” as advertisers move to the Internet, he said. “Congress responds to market failures.”

There is more at stake than sagging profits and lost jobs, Waxman said. “A vigorous free press and a vigorous democracy have been inextricably linked,” he said.

Congress could respond with tax relief, by easing antitrust laws or possibly by subsidizing newspapers, Waxman said. He didn’t endorse any approach and said any solution should originate with the industry and have public support and backing from Republicans and Democrats.

Waxman said proponents of newspaper subsidies would have to address concerns that they would “lead to government control of content.”

Yesterday, News Corp. (NWSA) Chairman Rupert Murdoch told the FTC workshop the news media should be wary of the “heavy hand” of federal intervention, including subsidies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Stern in Washington Cstern3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Kirk in Washington at jkirk12@bloomberg.net.

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