Congress Must Act to Save Journalism From Google and Facebook

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee picked up where it left off in it’s second hearing on reviving competition — this time with a focus on “saving the free and diverse press.” Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ranking Member Ken Buck (R-NY) used the hearing to introduce the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which allows news publishers to collectively negotiate with digital platforms. 

In advance of the hearing, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Native American Journalists Association and the Radio Television Digital News Association penned a letter in support of the journalism industry:“for there to be advancement of diversity in journalism, journalism itself must survive and thrive.”

As Microsoft CEO and witness at today’s hearing Brad Smith said in his prepared testimony, “We need the government to act… there is a persistent and structural imbalance between a technology gatekeeper and the free press, particularly small and independent news organizations.” And speaking on the Cicilline-Buck legislation, Smith said, “There was a principle concern [in Australia] that frankly the only news organizations that would benefit would be the big ones… ensuring that everyone was reached was what is exactly in the Journalism Competition and Protection Act… If you don’t create a basis for small publishers to negotiate collectively, you don’t create a basis for them to negotiate effectively.” 

As Congress continues to put the pressure on Big Tech, other U.S. policymakers and  regulators and their global counterparts are also closing in on Google and Facebook and the devastating impact they’re having on an already crumbling industry. We need action and we are encouraged by the momentum behind this bipartisan legislation. 

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January 2019, and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project:

“Today’s hearing is just another testament of how there is a desire for much-needed legislation that regulates competition in support of the journalism industry. Global pressure on Big Tech continues to mount, and we must use that momentum to finally get a hold of these dominant platforms and restore a fair competitive marketplace for news publishers. As we keep moving forward, we need to ensure that legislation favors not only the big players in the news publishing business, but also the local publishers who are the ones that have been hit the hardest by Big Tech’s stranglehold on the digital advertising industry.”