Managing Editor's Note: What follows was originally published at Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog on July 20, 2009.
Well if we can spend millions to protect the salt marsh mouse in San Francisco Bay, we can surely shell out billions to bail out minority broadcasters. It’s good for the economy and after all Congress is on record as saying it needs to save our nation’s newspapers, too. So, the table is set for government financial intervention of the media.
Minority broadcasters are asking tax-cheat Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for financial assistance. Sounds like the financial and auto industries, and it is. These broadcasters, including the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Inner City Broadcasting Coalition, the Spanish Broadcasting System, and others say they can bounce back because “unlike the auto business, broadcasting has been healthy for many years.” Has it now?
Ad revenues for broadcasters started declining severely in late 2007 and throughout 2008 were down up to 40% in some cases. The ad decline not only impacted broadcasters, it impacted newspaper groups and many such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and others have gone out of business. Stock prices of some radio groups have fallen to absolutely nothing. So, minority broadcasters have a rosy picture ahead?
Most industry financial forecasters say local ad revenue for 2009 will be down 22% and most ad revenue is derived locally. This will continue into 2010 and these forecasters say (maybe) it will begin to turn in the last half of 2010. But, we also heard that forecast for 2009 and it was false.
As the nation digs itself further into debt and unemployment continues to increase, media is being hit as hard as any sector. But, there is an important point to be made. Perhaps suspect business models should be allowed to fail. If there is bailout money for minority broadcasters, what about bailout money for the nation’s non-minority broadcasters who face what many believe is their only path - bankruptcy. The answer to that is a forgone conclusion. Minorities will get a bailout because after all they are minorities and deserve special treatment. But, other broadcasters - especially the consolidated media will not get a dime. No media should be bailed out.
The bottom line is the table is set for more government intrusion into media. When government bails out media, it will want a hand in how that media is operated. It’s exactly what the government wants. Red flags should be waving en masse. Any media that considers itself an objective voice should refuse government bailout money and fall on the sword even if it means going out of business. Where government plays a role in the nation’s financial structure of media, danger to our core freedoms exists. We already have National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and even with taxpayer money these organizations are hurting.
We need to keep the fox out of the chicken coop and let the free marketplace selectively reward or destroy businesses as the free market economy was meant to work. But, I forget, there is no “free” marketplace in the Obama Administration’s game-plan. Expect the lineup at the public trough to grow longer.