WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) and Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ken Buck (R-NY) introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with digital platforms.
“We must enable news organizations to negotiate on a level playing field with the big tech companies if we want to preserve a strong and independent press,” said Senator Klobuchar, Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. “This bipartisan legislation will improve the quality of reporting and ensure that journalists are able to continue their critical work. Our media outlets need a fighting chance when negotiating for fair treatment by the digital platforms where so many Americans consume their news. ”
“Newspapers are locked in a life-or-death struggle with tech giants like Google and Facebook, and it’s not a fair fight. Local papers have continued to deliver news despite declines in circulation, but readers are losing out at as their options for news coverage evaporate. This bill will support the independence of local papers by giving news publishers the power to collectively negotiate with digital platforms like Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook aren’t just companies—they’re countries, and we can’t tolerate tech giants’ strangling their print news competitors,” said Senator Kennedy.
“A strong, diverse, free press is critical for any successful democracy. Access to trustworthy local journalism helps inform the public, hold powerful people accountable, and root out corruption,” said Representative Cicilline, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chair. “This bill will give hardworking local reporters and publishers the helping hand they need right now, so they can continue to do their important work.”
“One of the bedrock values of our country is a free press, but we have seen thousands of news organizations crushed by the monopolistic power of Big Tech,” said Representative Buck. “This bipartisan bill is an important start to remedying the results of Google, Facebook, and others anticompetitive conduct toward local news outlets, conservative media, and other news organizations.”
Nearly 90 percent of Americans now get news while on a smartphone, computer, or tablet, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year, dwarfing the number of Americans who get news via television, radio, or print media. Facebook and Google now account for the vast majority of online referrals to news sources, with the two companies also enjoying control of a majority of the online advertising market. This digital ad duopoly has directly contributed to layoffs and consolidation in the news industry, particularly for local news.
This legislation would address this imbalance by providing a safe harbor from antitrust laws so publishers can band together to negotiate with large platforms. It provides a 48-month window for companies to negotiate fair terms that would flow subscription and advertising dollars back to publishers, while protecting and preserving Americans’ right to access quality news. These negotiations would strictly benefit Americans and news publishers at-large; not just one or a few publishers.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act only allows coordination by news publishers if it (1) directly relates to the quality, accuracy, attribution or branding, and interoperability of news; (2) benefits the entire industry, rather than just a few publishers, and are non-discriminatory to other news publishers; and (3) is directly related to and reasonably necessary for these negotiations.
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