Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee marked up the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.” The bill proposes creating a “safe harbor” from antitrust law, allowing news companies to band together to negotiate compensation terms for their content with the largest digital platforms. The bill also allows publishers to restrict Google and Facebook from linking to their news stories, ultimately limiting the public’s access to credible information online.
Public Knowledge, along with dozens of other organizations, warns that the JCPA will do nothing to help preserve local journalism and, in fact, will likely compound some of the biggest problems in our information landscape today: consolidation and declining quality of information. The markup follows a letter sent by 21 organizations warning Senate lawmakers against adopting the bill.
The following can be attributed to Lisa Macpherson, Senior Policy Analyst at Public Knowledge:
“While the JCPA has undergone extensive rewrites, it is still an antitrust exemption, a legal maneuver that has a history of failing to achieve beneficial goals. Allowing the largest media conglomerates – like Alden Global Capital, Gannett, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and News Corp – to collude on the terms of access and value of their content will hurt competition and make our news landscape worse, not better. In a bill that is supposedly meant to encourage local journalism, there is no accountability for how the money is spent. Facebook and Google will fund more stock buybacks and executive bonuses than journalists’ salaries. It also introduces a precedent of payment for simply linking to information on the internet.
“This bill is also a threat to content moderation. The JCPA allows publishers to sue Facebook or Google for taking down content that the platforms find offensive or contrary to their community standards. And with the most recent amendment, proposed by Sen. Cruz (R-Texas), harmful misinformation, networked disinformation, and hate speech will be even harder to police under this bill — and that is by design. The JCPA will not save local journalism. Instead, it will make a few billionaires even wealthier at the expense of a healthy and open internet and information environment for all of us.”
You may view our resources page to learn more about the problems with this bill, including how it jeopardizes local journalism and the open internet. You may also view our blog post, “Here We Go Again: Another Round of Changes Haven’t Solved the Problems with the JCPA,” for more information on why Public Knowledge warns Congress against adopting the bill.