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Home » Kennedy, Klobuchar, Judiciary committees unveil bill text to ensure independent newspapers, conservative publishers get fair share against Big Tech

Kennedy, Klobuchar, Judiciary committees unveil bill text to ensure independent newspapers, conservative publishers get fair share against Big Tech

by Minden Press-Herald

“Local papers—especially the independent papers in Louisiana—are the heart and soul of journalism, and they break the news that millions of Americans rely on every day. However, tech giants like Facebook and Google are hammering local publications by keeping them from making a profit on Big Tech platforms—and it’s killing local journalism.”

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), along with Senate and House Judiciary Committee Chairs Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) released a revised version of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) to support small, local, independent and conservative news publications by giving them a level playing field in negotiations with Big Tech platforms that often prevent them from making a profit from their work online. 

The JCPA removes legal obstacles in order to permit small and mid-sized news organizations to negotiate jointly for compensation from digital platforms, including Facebook and Google, that access their content without allowing them to profit from their journalism. The legislation also allows news publishers to demand arbitration if they reach an impasse in negotiations with digital platforms. This bill would cover Louisiana’s major newspapers.

“Local papers—especially the independent papers in Louisiana—are the heart and soul of journalism, and they break the news that millions of Americans rely on every day. However, tech giants like Facebook and Google are hammering local publications by keeping them from making a profit on Big Tech platforms—and it’s killing local journalism. This bill supports the little guy by allowing local news providers to better negotiate with tech companies for the earnings they deserve,” said Kennedy.

“As the daughter of a newspaperman, I understand firsthand the vital role that a free press plays in strengthening our democracy. But local news is facing an existential crisis in our country, with ad revenues plummeting, newspapers closing, and many rural communities becoming ‘news deserts’ without access to local reporting. To preserve strong, independent journalism, we have to make sure news organizations are able to negotiate on a level playing field with the online platforms that have come to dominate news distribution and digital advertising. Our bipartisan legislation ensures media outlets will be able to engage in good faith negotiations to receive fair compensation from the Big Tech companies that profit from their news content, allowing journalists to continue their critical work of keeping communities informed,” said Klobuchar. 

The JCPA would:

  • Protect small or independent publications, including those that express conservative viewpoints, from being discriminated against by digital platforms. The bill would also provide a private right of action for violations of this rule.
  • Not apply to large publishers, including large mainstream outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.
  • Block retaliation against eligible digital journalism providers for participating in joint negotiations or arbitration and provide a private right of action for violations of this prohibition.
  • Help independent, local or conservative online news publishers with less than 1,500 full-time employees and non-network news broadcasters to negotiate jointly with a covered digital outlet over the terms and conditions of the outlet’s access to digital news content. 
  • Require covered platforms to include those that have at least 50 million U.S.-based users or subscribers and are owned or controlled by a person that has either net annual sales or market capitalization greater than $550 billion or at least 1 billion worldwide monthly active users to negotiate in good faith with the eligible news organizations.
  • Enable digital news publications to demand final-offer arbitration if a joint negotiation with a covered platform does not result in an agreement after six months.
  • Create a limited safe harbor from federal and state antitrust laws for eligible digital journalism providers that allows them to participate in joint negotiations and arbitration and, as part of those negotiations, to jointly withhold their content from a covered platform.
  • Sunset within eight years.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cynthia Lummus (R-Wyo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) have joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers as cosponsors of the JCPA.

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