Tuesday, October 22, 2019

NY State Bill Aims to Save Local News

Two New York lawmakers are proposing a requirement that any cable TV company operating in New York offer a local news channel with “news, weather and public affairs programming,” according to The NY Times citing a draft of the bill. The programming would have to be independently produced; companies could not simply rebroadcast others’ existing news shows.

The bill, if passed, would be the first of its kind in the country.

Policymakers elsewhere have considered other forms of intervention to save local news: Earlier this year, New Jersey’s governor, Philip D. Murphy, approved up to $2 million in state funds to support community journalism, making New Jersey the first state to allocate money to the local news landscape, despite concerns about media independence. Massachusetts is considering a study of the industry’s decline; federal lawmakers are debating making it easier for news outlets to become tax exempt.

But New York’s bill would be perhaps the most aggressive attempt by government officials to sustain local news in the long term.

It also would offer a concrete example of shifting attitudes toward corporate responsibility, as public officials, voters and even business leaders acknowledge the need for firms to think not only of profits but also of their impact on society.

“These companies don’t listen when it comes to us encouraging them to keep local programming,” said State Senator Kevin Thomas, a Democrat, one of the bill’s sponsors. “So there comes a time when the Legislature has to tell them. Leaving them to self-regulate, they do things for their own profit-making schemes.”

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