FCC Report Recommends Moving Government National Ad Spending to Local

Rejects ad tax to support public media
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Local ad sales folk will want to
keep an eye on the FCC's follow-through of its just-released report on the
information needs of communities.

One of the recommendations of that
report, which was on ways to help local media in times of disruptive change,
was to have the government move some of its approximately billion-dollar ad budget
for military recruitment, park safety and other efforts from primarily national
media to local buys.

It also rejects ad taxes and sees
potential promise in targeted online ads.

In briefing the FCC on the
report's findings Thursday, Steven Waldman, who oversaw its creation, said that
broadcasters had pitched him on how that national buy could essentially be
recreated with a series of local media buys.

"Some local broadcasters have
argued that this [national budget] could be targeted to local news enterprises
without undermining the cost effectiveness of the campaigns, and perhaps even
saving taxpayers money," the report says. "We agree." It says
that there must be safeguards to prevent the steering of that ad budget from
becoming political. Waldman said he did not want a repeat of President Andrew
Jackson steering advertising to his favorite newspapers. "with such an effort,
it is imperative that this strategy be implemented in a way that is strictly
non-political and not subject to political manipulation," said the report.

The report rejects proposals to support
pubic media with a tax on advertising, saying "this would make it harder,
not easier, for both commercial and nonprofit media entities to create
sustainable business models."

The report also gives a qualified
shout-out to targeted online advertising. "Regulators and consumers have
an extremely legitimate concern that targeted advertising might invade the
privacy of Internet users," the report says, "however, ad targeting,
since it commands higher prices, offers one possible way for local content creators
to build sustainable business models that can help finance local journalism.
When considering privacy rules, the policymakers should therefore also consider
the positive benefits of ad targeting for local news and journalism operations."

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