Americans Reject Newspaper Subsidies
Confirming what most people already suspect, a new Rasmussen Reports poll found that a majority of Americans oppose any kind of taxes or fees to subsidize the ailing newspaper business.
In a phone survey on June 6-7, Rasmussen asked 1,000 U.S. adults about various ideas proposed by the Federal Trade Commission to help shore up the industry's finances. All where rejected by most of the respondents. 84% of respondents reject the idea of a 3% tax on mobile phone bills, 76% reject the idea of a tax on consumer electronics, and 74% reject the idea of a tax on "news aggregators."
These results make it clear that Americans do not believe newspapers need or deserve help from the government. This may reflect growing concern about "big government," its involvement in the sector and the threat of new taxes. But they also reflect specific sentiments about the news business in particular.
While the first two proposed taxes (on cell phones and consumer electronics) do not seem to have any discernible relation to the news business, the last proposed tax on online news aggregators represents a more precise, targeted mechanism to redistribute wealth within the news business.
By rejecting this idea, however, the Rasmussen respondents affirm that publishers must sink or swim -- either determine how to support themselves with online subscriptions and advertising, or go under.
Those polled understand their position could mean the demise of more newspapers; they seem willing to accept this outcome. Rasmussen found that 58% of respondents said online news sources and other traditional news outlets can step in to make up for the loss of newspaper reporting.