Remarks included discussion of dominant tech platforms’ impact on the sustainability of quality journalism and the need for legislation that ensures fair compensation
Arlington, VA – The News Media Alliance testified March 12 at a House Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing, “Reviving Competition, Part 2: Saving the Free and Diverse Press,” on the need for the dominant tech platforms, such as Facebook and Google, to compensate news publishers fairly for use of their content. The Alliance submitted written testimony yesterday, ahead of the hearing. A statement for the record by Maribel Perez Wadsworth, President of News for Gannett Media and Publisher of USA TODAY, can also be found here.
Alliance President & CEO, David Chavern, testified at the hearing, as well as Brad Smith, President of Microsoft; Emily Barr, CEO of Graham Media; Jonathan Schleuss, President of the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America; Glenn Greenwald, Journalist and Constitutional Lawyer; and Clay Travis, Founder of Outkick Media.
On Wednesday, House Antitrust Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ranking Member Ken Buck (R-CO) reintroduced the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act in the House, 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 also introduced Wednesday in the Senate by Antitrust Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator John N. Kennedy (R-LA).
Members of Congress are also considering more comprehensive solutions to strengthen the bill. These options could include a mechanism to ensure equitable terms are offered to all news publishers, small and large, and an oversight mechanism to ensure the platforms participate in good faith.
News Media Alliance President & CEO David Chavern stated, “We are encouraged by the recent developments in Australia and Europe and that new compensation systems for publishers are gaining support here in the U.S. Quality journalism is key to sustaining civic society, and we must ensure that the digital ecosystem returns value back to the people who create that journalism. The cost of inaction is clearer than ever, as we’ve seen that in the absence of news, misinformation and hate speech run rampant and unchecked. We need trusted sources of journalism – particularly local and community publishers – now more than ever, but without at least an antitrust safe harbor, news publishers will have no capacity to collectively fight for their futures.”
Current 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.
The Alliance applauds Reps. Cicilline and Buck and Sens. Klobuchar and Kennedy for their leadership in support of local news and looks forward to working with them on ways to further strengthen the bill to ensure equitable terms and fair compensation for the valuable content being produced by all news publishers, including small and local.
The world is moving toward a new and more equitable compensation system for publishers and that basic idea now has wide support across the political spectrum and is the cornerstone of all comprehensive solutions. News publishers’ ability to build a sustainable digital future for journalism will depend, in large part, on their ability to get fair compensation from Facebook and Google. Quality journalism supports democracy and it is more important than ever to ask our elected representatives to support legislation that brings value back to those who create journalism.