Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill To Allow News Media To Collectively Negotiate With Big Tech Platforms

(Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers reintroduced a bill on Wednesday to allow news media outlets to collectively negotiate content deals with online platforms, an effort to give the local news industry more leverage in dealing with big tech.

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will give the publishers a temporary, 48-month safe harbor from antitrust laws. A similar piece of legislation was introduced in 2019 but failed to advance. The new legislation applies not just to print and online publishers but broadcast outlets as well.

Supporters of the legislation have pointed to the power of Google and Facebook in making the case that local news publishers in particular need a “level playing field” in content deals.

This time, House Antitrust Subcommittee chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) said in a recent appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources that “the monopoly power of these two platforms is resulting in a significant decline in local journalism because the business model is not working for local newspapers and online publishers, and we have to do something about it.”

He added, “I think you will see real reforms in this Congress.”

Cicilline’s co-sponsors include Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), the ranking member of the antitrust subcommittee, as well as Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who chairs the antitrust subcommittee in the Senate, is sponsoring the bill in that chamber.

The bill allows news publishers to coordinate only if it “directly relates to the quality, accuracy, attribution or branding, or interoperability of news.” It also has to provide a benefit to the entire industry and be non-discriminatory toward other publishers.

Australia recently passed a law that will require big tech platforms to negotiate license agreements with publishers when content appears in search results and feeds.

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