(UnitedVoice.com) – Google and Facebook are two of the most influential and powerful distributors of news on the planet. Worldwide, Google enjoys 92.42% of the search engine market share. It’s estimated that there are 70,000 searches made every second. According to Pew Research, one-third of Americans get their news from Facebook, the most of any social media site.
The two tech giants are so powerful that digital publishers and news outlets blame them for the collapse in their revenues. However, it’s even worse for them than that… the media companies often complain that Google and Facebook profit from their content at their expense. Now, a bipartisan effort is underway to ensure the survivability of news outlets, especially local news.
If Big Tech Can Pay in Australia and France, They Can Pay in America, Too
It’s been a long ride for media organizations who claim that Facebook and Google profit from their content through ads on their platforms at the expense of their original news. It appears that Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) agree with that assessment. In recent months, Google and Facebook negotiated deals in France and Australia to pay for news linked on their platforms. As a result, the two Senators reintroduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.
News outlets and digital publishers argue they need the tools and leverage to negotiate with Big Tech. Currently, antitrust laws prevent them from doing just that. However, the proposed legislation would offer some much-needed relief.
What’s in the Legislation?
Klobuchar is a long-time critic of Big Tech’s news monopoly. The Minnesota Democrat says the bipartisan legislation would enable “news organizations to negotiate on a level playing field…and preserve a strong and independent press.”
If the legislation passes, it will offer a four-year suspension of antitrust laws for print or digital news to collectively negotiate with news distributors. In the Senate, the bill is being co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). In the House, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee of Antitrust, is co-sponsoring the bill along with Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who also sits on the antitrust subcommittee.
The writing was already on the wall. However, the legislation’s introduction could push the two companies to strike deals with media outlets sooner where it’s legal to do so. In 2020, Facebook said it would pay The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA Today for headlines. However, there are other national and local news outlets not getting paid for their content rights.
In October, Google said it would invest $1 billion to support the news industry over the next three years. On February 24, Facebook followed suit with a similar proposal.
This bill may be the only bipartisan solution to come out of Washington anytime soon. It’s best to take it while it’s being offered.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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