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Sustaining Democracy in a Digital Age

A Blog from New America's Media Policy Initiative

Public interest obligations: Are there better models?

Published:  February 26, 2010

Yesterday, Wednesday February 25, New America hosted the FCCs Steve Waldman and Michael Kinsley, Senior Editor at The Atlantic (video below). Although much of Waldman and Kinsley's discussion was focused on the future of journalism in the digital age, Waldman began the event by speaking about the public interest in the changing media ecosystem.

As we noted in an earlier blog post recapping a recent FCC workshop, Waldman continued to demonstrate an interest in exploring the public interest obligations of broadcasters. He did suggest that the current obligations aren't particularly meaningful. He even mentioned that some people have suggested that the requirement to broad programs in the public interest and list what is done in a file that the broadcaster must make available for public inspection could be replaced by a financial obligation to contribute to a fund for journalism. Waldman declined, however, to give away his opinions on the subject, saying that the FCC would delve more deeply into this question and others during upcoming workshops. My hunch is that he believes his report might just have something substantive to say on this question.

He has a workshop coming up next week with private broadcasters and I'm keen to see how that discussion goes.

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