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Sept. 20, 2013, 1:47 p.m.

It’s a new report from the essential Reuters Institute at Oxford, which leads the way in cross-national media studies today. PDF here. The big question is what’s the role of public television — PBS, BBC, CBC, NHK, and so on — in a world where media options are more numerous than ever? One noteworthy, if short, chapter is Joshua Gans’ “Television Wants to be Shared”:

My recent book Information Wants to be Shared (2012) puts forward the hypothesis that allowing consumers to share information easily can be an important feature of business models for content provision. The reasons are twofold. First, information, as an economic good, has a non-rival characteristic, meaning that the costs of producing information are independent of, and often much greater than, the costs of distributing it. This is certainly true of broadcasting where the size of the audience does not impact on the cost of providing programming. From an economic perspective, what this implies is that it is efficient for information, once produced, to be widely disseminated and that we should look for ways for all users to contribute towards the cost of producing that information. That widespread dissemination and voluntary choice to contribute to information funding can conflict is a challenge that does not diminish the aim here.

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