Government regulation of the media acts like a public subsidy, argues Mr Denmore. It makes it difficult for new players to get a foothold and "encourages monopolistic behaviour that circumvents reasoned debate." So what is to be done?
One possibility is to hope a white knight buys into the market. Mr Denmore suggests Eric Beecher could make a bid for Fairfax’s radio stations. But:
… if there really is no possibility of a media that is both commercial and responsible, perhaps we should be looking at not-for-profit ventures like US investigative journalism venture ProPublica that serves the public good by employing the traditional journalistic values of accuracy, balance, context, fairness and publicly spirited inquiry. That, after all, is what a properly functioning democracy demands from the media.
Irrespective of the commercial ambitions of media proprietors, the journalism they fund plays a vital function in a democracy. And for that reason, it should be a public good in itself, like banks. People need and want reliable information from trusted intermediaries. If the government insists on regulating media ownership, it should ensure that licensees and owners meet certain public interest tests. The question is how do you enforce those without threatening press freedom. Alternatively, the government could get out of the way completely and let market forces prevail. But we saw what happened when banks were allowed to run amok.
Mr Denmore’s chief complaint is News Ltd’s dominance of the marketplace. In a comment at Larvatus Prodeo last year he argued that commentators like Dennis Shanahan, Piers Akerman, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Janet Albrechtsen "are just paid glove puppets for the News agenda." He suggested that "the government should be doing what it can on the policy front to hurt Murdoch’s business interests" because hitting their hip pocket is the only thing News Ltd understands.