Bill introduced in Congress to create anti-trust safe harbor for newspapers to deal with digital duopoly

Earlier this week, Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, introduced legislation designed to allow publishers to collectively negotiate more favorable business arrangements with big tech platforms, such as Facebook and Google.

Dubbed the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2018, the bill is sponsored by the News Media Alliance and would incorporate a limited safe harbor into current antitrust laws providing a two-year window for newspaper companies to negotiate fair terms that would flow earned subscription and advertising dollars back to the publishers.

Because of the potentially devastating impact of the Duopoly’s decisions and choices on publishers and other businesses, the bill has received widespread support from CNPA as one of 44 state press associations representing 47 states, as well as more than 200,000 local and national news publications, the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), the National Newspaper Association (NNA) and the Association of Alterative Newsmedia (AAN).

According to NMA, the Duopoly is capturing 83 percent of all digital ad revenue growth and 73 percent of total U.S. digital advertising. NMA 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. “The money generated by news audiences is flowing primarily to Google and Facebook, and not to the reporters and publishers who produce excellent journalism,” said NMA President and CEO David Chavern.

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.”

Read Wired’s excellent story on the bill here.

For more information about “The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2018,” Congressman Cicilline’s office has provided a fact sheet, located here.