Statement: Anticompetitive Behavior by Some Big Tech Platforms Harms Quality Journalism

On Wednesday, July 29, in a House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing titled, “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google,” members of Congress will question the CEOs of the big tech platforms about their dominance of the digital marketplace. The hearing is the sixth in a series of hearings focused on the dominant online platforms and the adequacy of existing antitrust laws and enforcement. According to a joint statement from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI), “Given the central role these corporations play in the lives of the American people, it is critical that their CEOs are forthcoming. As we have said from the start, their testimony is essential for us to complete this investigation.” The bipartisan investigation was launched last year by Chairman Cicilline and then Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins (R-GA).

The News Media Alliance supports the efforts by these congressional leaders to bring to light anticompetitive behaviors undertaken by the big tech platforms, particularly as they are harming news publishers and high-quality journalism. Alliance President & CEO David Chavern stated, “This hearing is a rare opportunity to examine the role of dominant technology companies in our economic and civic life. We hope that the Committee will spend some of the time highlighting how some platforms – notably, Google and Facebook – are accelerating the spread of misinformation, while also undermining the businesses of quality news publishers. But more broadly, we hope that the hearing helps improve public understanding of how companies with massive and anticompetitive market positions are impeding the growth and development of our economy, rather than propelling it forward.”

Chavern testified at the first hearing in this series, held on June 11, 2019, titled, “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 1: The Free and Diverse Press.” The Alliance, as well as most of the witnesses at that hearing, expressed support for the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the House and the Senate last year that would allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with the online platforms. In his testimony, Chavern noted the need for a solution for sustainable journalism and that failing to take stronger action to protect news publishers across the country would pose a risk to our civic society. Most of the witnesses at the time also supported stronger antitrust scrutiny of big tech companies.

Last month, the Alliance published a White Paper, “How Google Abuses Its Position as a Market Dominant Platform to Strong-Arm News Publishers and Hurt Journalism,” which it submitted to the Department of Justice as they proceed with an investigation of Google’s anticompetitive behavior. The White Paper, which is based on more than a year of interviews and consultations with many Alliance members about their experiences with Google products, outlines several of the ways in which Google uses news content to its advantage across its products and services.

The Antitrust Subcommittee hearing will be livestreamed on Wednesday, July 29 beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET, here.

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