Saturday, May 14, 2005

National Conference for Media Reform - Observation I

Observation I:

I came away from my visit today to the National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR), thinking about several things and one of them being their model and asking even if a majority of Americans wanted it (they don't & won't), how would it work and could it work?

NCMR folks don't want the media owned by private for profit organizations, so where would the funding come from? Well the government (our taxes) would pay for the network of TV, radio, press, and internet organizations. So tax funding would support their model, how much would that take? Well it would depend on how many options you had. If you had five or six total nation wide channels on TV for example, it would cost much less than the hundreds of channels we currently have. To support the same number of options we currently have under the private model it would take hundreds of millions per channel. Not a cost effective option.

Sounds like their model would produce say five national channels. That sounds like a terrible idea from a choice perspective. Of the 100 plus national channels I have available to me, I watch probably four on a regular basis and then probably another four or five on a limited basis. I only find a total of lets say 10 channels interesting enough out of 100 plus or 10% viewable for my interests and tastes. Needless to say that under the NCMR model I would probably not watch TV at all.

That cuts to the core problem of the NCMR model regardless of the political considerations. People simply would not watch it, just that simple. Think about PBS currently, their ratings have been dropping dramatically for years but seem to have bottomed out recently to a straight line. A straight line reminiscent to death but never the less its not going down currently from its very low level. It's not a viable product and competing against private networks it will never have anything other than a nitch viewership.

That is pretty much what the folks I talked with today were, nitch people that believe deeply in their idea, but it will never be anything other than a nitch player or a nitch idea. It would be a bad product with limited appeal and would simply fail. It would be like having lots of public access channels and that being all you could view. You know those shows on odd cable locations that have garage bands, extreme folks talking about strange - nitch topics ( SNL skit material ), and basically a content that is not very interesting to most of us.

Government controlled and funded organizations do a poor job across the board. They are ineffective and almost always have a lower quality than free market driven products. The pressure of the free market make a product true to the demands and expectations of their customers. By being publically funded, government organizations like PBS are much more incline to be "tone deaf" to the customers desires and wants and therefore deliver a lower quality product. The NCMR model would not work in a country like ours that operates on a free market principle. Imagine a place where the free market directed all business and goods except the media. Again, it's not going to happen and because of uncountable good reasons.

The constitutional right of Free Speech, does not stipulate that media should be delivered from a government controlled organization. Freedom of speech means that I can do what I'm doing right now and that the exchange and expression of ideas can be given freely without oppression or censorship. Putting a government funded and controlled entity in charge of that would be disastrous. Freedom of speech is best served by a free market model, and always will be.