Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Kennedy, Klobuchar introduce bill to ensure Big Tech does not shortchange independent news outlets, conservative publishers

by BIZ Magazine

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA). This bipartisan legislation would support small, local, independent and conservative news publications by giving them a level playing field in negotiations with Big Tech platforms that often prevent them from making a profit from their work online.

“Local papers—especially the independent papers in Louisiana—are the heart and soul of journalism, and they break the news that millions of Americans rely on every day. However, tech giants like Facebook and Google are hammering local publications by keeping them from making a profit on Big Tech platforms—and it’s killing local journalism. This bill supports the little guy by allowing local news providers to better negotiate with tech companies for the earnings they deserve,” said Kennedy.

“As the daughter of a newspaperman, I understand firsthand the vital role that a free press plays in strengthening our democracy. But local news is facing an existential crisis, from ad revenues plummeting and newsrooms across the country closing to artificial intelligence tools taking content. To preserve strong, independent journalism, news organizations must be able to negotiate on a level playing field with the online platforms that dominate news distribution and digital advertising. Our bipartisan legislation ensures that media outlets can band together and negotiate for fair compensation from the Big Tech companies that profit from their news content, allowing journalists to continue their critical work,” said Klobuchar.

The JCPA would remove legal obstacles in order to allow small and mid-sized news organizations to negotiate jointly for compensation from digital platforms, including Facebook and Google, that access their content without allowing them to profit from their journalism. The legislation also allows news publishers to demand arbitration if they reach an impasse in negotiations with digital platforms.

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) cosponsored the bill.

The JCPA would:

  • Protect small or independent publications, including those that express conservative viewpoints, from being discriminated against by digital platforms. The bill would also provide a private right of action for violations of this rule.
  • Prohibit covered platforms from discussing ways to “display, rank, distribute, suppress, promote, throttle, label, filter, or curate” content as means of preventing content moderation from influencing the commercial agreement.
  • Not apply to large publishers, including large mainstream outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
  • Block retaliation against eligible digital journalism providers for participating in joint negotiations or arbitration and provide a private right of action for violations of this prohibition.
  • Help independent, local or conservative online news publishers with less than 1,500 full-time employees and non-network news broadcasters to negotiate jointly with a covered digital outlet over the terms and conditions of the outlet’s access to digital news content.
  • Require covered platforms to include those that have at least 50 million U.S.-based users or subscribers and are owned or controlled by a person that has either net annual sales or market capitalization greater than $550 billion or at least 1 billion worldwide monthly active users to negotiate in good faith with the eligible news organizations.
  • Enable digital news publications to demand final-offer arbitration if a joint negotiation with a covered platform does not result in an agreement after six months.
  • Create a limited safe harbor from federal and state antitrust laws for eligible digital journalism providers that allows them to participate in joint negotiations and arbitration and, as part of those negotiations, to jointly withhold their content from a covered platform.
  • Sunset within eight years.

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