Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on Big Tech’s Impact on the Future of Quality Journalism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Journalism Competition & Preservation Act would allow news publishers to negotiate for fair compensation from the tech platforms

Arlington, VA – Today the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing at 3:00 p.m. ET, “Breaking the News – Journalism, Competition, and the Effects of Market Power on a Free Press,” on the impact of the dominant tech platforms, such as Facebook and Google, on the ability to sustain high-quality journalism and the need for legislation to ensure the platforms provide news publishers fair compensation for use of their online content.

Witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing include Jennifer Bertetto, president & CEO of Trib Total Media in Greensburg, PA (written testimony here); Hal Singer, economist and antitrust expert (written testimony here); and Joel Oxley, senior vice president and general manager of WTOP and Federal News Radio.

Last March, Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator John N. Kennedy (R-LA) reintroduced the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) in the Senate, which would provide a limited antitrust safe harbor for news publishers to collectively negotiate with the platforms for fair compensation for the use of their content. An identical bill was introduced concurrently in the House by House Antitrust Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ranking Member Ken Buck (R-CO).

News Media Alliance President & CEO, David Chavern, stated, “We applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding this hearing and recognizing the urgent need to address the local news crisis. We need trusted sources of journalism now more than ever. Currently, the dominant tech platforms set the rules, using news publishers’ content without providing appropriate compensation, while taking the majority of digital advertising revenue in the U.S. This is revenue that news publishers need to reinvest in providing quality journalism. Now is the time to act, and we believe the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act is the solution that will help sustain high-quality journalism and therefore our civic society.”

Current antitrust laws prohibit news publishers from taking collective action by negotiating with the large online platforms for fair compensation for all news publishers – large and small – across the board. This legislation would provide news publishers with a limited opportunity to negotiate together and to withhold content from the online platforms during the negotiations, while presenting a sensible, market-based solution to a major threat to the future of high-quality journalism.

Managing Director of Econ One, Hal Singer, said, “The reason Google scrapes, indexes and posts news publisher content for free is because it can. It’s like some bully coming into your house and taking your lunch. As long as market forces are allowed to dictate the payments for accessing news publisher content, the access price will remain at zero, and news publishers will be deprived of billions of dollars per year of value created for the platforms.”

“While Google and Facebook earn record profits year after year, their monopolistic behavior has led to downsized or shuttered newsrooms across America. Even with our restructuring and enhanced digital offerings, it was not enough to level the playing field,” said Jennifer Bertetto, President and CEO of Trib Total Media. “The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) would allow news publishers – irrespective of size or political persuasion – to jointly negotiate with the platforms for fair compensation for the use of our content. The JCPA would give my company – a small, regionally-focused publisher – what we don’t have today: a seat at the table.”

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Media contact:
Lindsey Loving
Director, Communications
lindsey@newsmediaalliance.org

The News Media Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,000 news organizations and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and globally. Alliance members include print, digital and mobile publishers of original news content. Headquartered just outside Washington, D.C., the association focuses on ensuring the future of news media through communication, research, advocacy and innovation. Information about the News Media Alliance (formerly NAA) can be found at www.newsmediaalliance.org.

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