Written by John Cavanagh
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Wednesday, 22 February 2006

image for The Licence Fee
"We need to invite change."

NEW YORK (AP) - "We, at the New York Times, believe that the time is right for the introduction of a licence fee to support our continuing activities," remarked Janet L. Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer, of the prominent media group.

"It is proposed that the licence fee could be imposed on any person of the United States owning a table, a couch or having a lap. These are the media platforms upon which newspapers are currently being read. In its first year of operation, it is proposed that the licence fee could be set at $50 for the legal owners of tables and various couches; and $60 for those who have a lap."

"In 2002, New York Times Co. was worth about 7.8 billion. Today, for various reasons, our company is worth somewhere between 3 and 4 billion. This situation is not sustainable. We need to invite change. As we see it, the best solution would be a licence fee."

"At the New York Times, our core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high quality news, information and entertainment. This necessarily includes the responsibility, from time to time, of doing whatever we can to assist in the removal of incumbent Republican administrations."

"To undertake this mission, it comes as both an annoyance and a distraction that we are required to make a profit for our shareholders. This is why we now need a licence fee. If we are to continue with our preference for ideological-driven reporting, the State must support us in this public endeavour."

"The type of journalism we strive for at the New York Times is driven by a real sense of public purpose that could now be better funded by a licence fee - compulsory, at least, for the first decade of its operation."

"The licence fee could then be renewed to examine if an increase in its level is justified. I propose that a carefully selected committee of civil servants could best perform that important function. It's obvious that the private sector, to which we unfortunately belong, has no appreciation of public purpose. From what I've observed, if these corporate heads don't see any dollar signs, they're just not interested."

'With advertising making up two thirds of our total revenues - any credibility issues raised against us could ultimately lead to a pullout by our advertisers. Again we need a licence fee. We are repelled by the notion that our continuing existence is subject to the whim of greedy corporate advertisers."

"Yes, we are a corporation; but we have at least the good grace not to openly acknowledge that fact. Frankly, it really is embarrassing to us. To be honest, we don't even like these advertisers."

"With about 60 percent of our shares held by large institutions, any sudden drop in our share price means I have to deal with annoying calls from these boorish corporate suits. Why this second, I've just got off the phone with some disturbed guy from T. Rowe Price Assoiciates, Inc. He was making all these wild allegations that I'm somehow sending his investors broke. But what does a person like this really know about responsible public journalism?"

"Believe me, as a former public school teacher these phone calls are like nightmares to me. If we can get the State more significantly involved in our business and our mission, this would clearly be the best way forward."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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