Readers: Here’s how Trump could overhaul media
They think the new president would give net neutrality the heave-ho
November 11, 2016
All across America, and around the world as well, people at all levels inside and outside of government are puzzling over just what newly elected president Donald Trump will do when he enters the White House in January.
That’s no easy task.
The problem is that through the long campaign Trump made so many statements about what he would do if he won and then contradicted those statements a day or a week later.
Further, it was always a struggle to tell whether he was saying things simply for effect, to rouse his followers, or whether he actually meant them. Did he really believe, for example, that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese?
Confounding the problem, so much of the campaign rhetoric on both sides was not about issues but personalities.
But all that said, based on Trump’s statements, media buyers and planners are piecing together the actions the new president could take that would impact media directly or affect the media marketplace in some way.
Here are five possible actions, based on a Media Life survey asking to readers for their take on the election and the Trump victory.
Abolish net neutrality
Trump has gone on the record—if Twitter counts as the record—against Federal Communication Commission rules and policies barring internet service providers from blocking certain content or charging some services extra based on their usage.
In his Tweets, Trump mused that net neutrality was unfair because he believed it worked against the interests of conservative media outlets.
Opponents of net neutrality argue that it unfairly benefits Silicon Valley giants like Google, freeing it from having to pay fees for searches, in effect giving the search giant a free ride at the expense of internet service providers.
Still, buyers note Trump’s frequent flip-flops make it hard to say whether he’ll actually work to get rid of net neutrality.
“His positions tend to change depending on his agenda. It’s hard to predict what he will or won’t follow through on,” noted one reader.
Toss a major wrench in auto advertising
Trump has been adamant that U.S. companies should be encouraged to make their products in the United States and be punished for outsourcing manufacturing to foreign countries.
To that end, the president-elect has said he will tax cars produced in Mexico for sale in the United States by as much as 35 percent.
The effect would be catastrophic for U.S. automakers and for all of media, for which auto advertising is major source of revenue. That has media buyers worried.
Will he do it? It’s anyone’s guess.
Make it easier to win libel suits
Trump has long had his enemies in the media, and he’s sued or threatened to sue many publications that he feels have harmed him, the latest being The New York Times.
During the campaign he opined that it was too difficult to win libel suits and that if elected he would work to make it easier to do so.
He’d have a real challenge on his hands if he tries, going head to head with the entire media industry and decades of court rulings strengthening the protections afforded journalists.
And in any case, many media people doubt Trump will follow through on that threat, seeing it more as campaign bluster.
“He has other issues more important to handle and will table this subject,” predicted one.
Defund NPR and PBS
Buyers note Trump has never specifically addressed the possibility of eliminating federal funding for NPR and PBS, a pet issue among Republicans for many years that’s been blocked by Democrats.
However, with a Republican president and a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, the issue will likely be back on the table, and Trump likely wouldn’t veto it as Obama might have.
Derail big media deals such as AT&T-Time Warner
Trump went on the record denouncing AT&T’s pending acquisition of Time Warner last month. He’s said he believes such mega-deals destroy democracy.
If he really means it, expect him to staff the Justice Department with people who will block the deal on antitrust grounds.
Here Trump could have the support of media planners and buyers, who’ve long objected to media consolidation, believing it reduces advertising options for their clients and raises costs.
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