As has so many usages that sometimes I can't find the exact meaning of it or what function it serves.
I don't think as in the passage has any meaning other than and, and I failed to locate its meaning in dictionaries.
The conventional view of the proper relationship of the government to the media, as it developed in the United States, is well known to us all: the free press is generated by private citizens independent of government censorship and control. By logical deduction, this means that media and communication are, in effect, a function to be provided by profit-seeking businesses competing in the marketplace. The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees this freedom, and as long as the government keeps its hands off the media, a society’s flow of information and ideas will be safe. Without government intervention, a healthy media system will invariably rise from the rich soil of political freedom. Let the government intervene, no matter how well-intended the intervention may seem, and alarm bells should go off in the minds of all liberal and right-thinking people. The government and the private media are by nature in conflict. To paraphrase the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, if a society could have either media or government but not both, the sane choice for free people is media.