Tax-free digital news?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Industrial Organization. 2019, 66 119-136. 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2018.05.006
News platforms are struggling. Their printed readership is predominantly old, and their digital product struggles to win the attention of the young. For several decades tax reductions have been used in Europe to increase the circulation of printed newspapers. Would extending these reductions to digital platforms stimulate digital consumption? Using a two-sided pricing model where a print platform and a digital platform compete for multi-homing consumers and advertisers we show that the answer is no. The two-sidedness of the market means that the digital price would increase. Not only would digital circulation decrease but so too would the fraction of consumers that access news from both platforms. Key media policy goals of reach (circulation) and pluralism (multi-homing) would be harmed.