Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2018
Bill would provide limited safe harbor for newspaper companies to negotiate with tech platforms
In an effort to ensure fairness and preserve critical access to trusted, high-quality news, Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, introduced the "Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2018."
This bill would incorporate a limited safe harbor into current antitrust laws, providing news publishers the ability to collectively negotiate with big tech platforms, such as Facebook and Google, on important factors – such as the quality, accuracy and attribution of news sources – that underpin their livelihoods and affect the public's continued ability to access news from trustworthy sources, a lynchpin of our democracy.
Because of the potentially devastating impact of the platforms' decisions and choices on publishers and other businesses, the bill has received widespread support from several stakeholders, including: more than 200,000 local and national news publications; the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), the trade association representing editors; the National Newspaper Association (NNA) and Association of Alterative Newsmedia (AAN), the trade associations representing weekly news publications and alternative news media, respectively; and 44 state press associations representing 47 states.
"Our papers need to be able to band together to negotiate with giants like Facebook or Google. This legislation will help to ensure that we are treated fairly," said Susan Rowell, NNA president, and publisher of The Lancaster (SC) News.
Alfredo Carbajal, ASNE president and editor of the Dallas, TX-based news organization Al Día, stated, "This bill will help level the playing field in the discussions with the large corporations who hold a disproportionate amount of power in the presentation of news and information to the public."
"The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would allow us to find workable solutions that benefit all participants involved," said Molly Willmott, president of AAN and special projects director for Inside Memphis Business.
News Media Alliance President & CEO David Chavern called on Congress again last Monday in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal to allow publishers to negotiate with dominant online platforms, saying the previously-reported problems arising from the Duopoly's dominance in the marketplace have gotten worse. "The money generated by news audiences is flowing primarily to Google and Facebook, and not to the reporters and publishers who produce excellent journalism," stated Chavern.
Currently, the Duopoly is capturing 83 percent of all digital ad revenue growth and 73 percent of total U.S. digital advertising. The Alliance believes the solution to this problem is to provide a safe harbor for news publishers to allow them to come together to negotiate with the platforms on their overall behalf.
Congressman Cicilline recognized the need to address the imbalance in the marketplace brought on by the platforms' dominance and help trusted news publishers protect themselves and their readers. "Our democracy is strongest when we have a free, open press that informs citizens, holds public officials accountable, and roots out corruption," said Cicilline. "That's why I'm introducing the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. This bill empowers local newspapers to negotiate collectively with the biggest technology platforms to ensure consumers have access to the best journalism possible."
The proposed bill would provide a two-year window for newspaper companies to negotiate fair terms that would flow earned subscription and advertising dollars back to the publishers, while protecting and preserving Americans' right to access quality news. Parameters included in the bill ensure that these negotiations would strictly benefit Americans and news publishers at-large; not just one or a few publishers.
The Alliance applauds Congressman Cicilline for his proactive stance. "We are grateful to Congressman Cicilline for his commitment to ensuring fair competition with the platforms and for his work to preserve quality journalism," Chavern said. "Our industry depends on our ability to continue to invest in stories that report the truth and hold our public officials accountable."
For more information about "The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2018," Congressman David Cicilline's office has provided a fact sheet, located here.