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house Bill H.R. 2054

Should News Organizations Get a Temporary Anti-Trust Exemption to Negotiate Collectively With Facebook and Google?

Argument in favor

Facebook and Google have gobbled up the advertising dollars that used to go to traditional news outlets, such as newspapers. The loss of this critical revenue has decimated newsrooms, affecting the quality of news coverage across the U.S. Allowing publishers to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google is the only way to ensure they get a fair share of the ad revenue on these platforms.

Lexpost's Opinion
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04/23/2019
Local newspapers are vital to the thousands of small and midsized towns across America. Without the local newspaper, between work and family, most people have no ability to hold their local government to account. The local press is NOT “The enemy of the people”. It is the best available means for the people to know the government that affects their day to day life the most. The best.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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04/23/2019
A bipartisan bill. Astonishing. I support that. Hector’s comment explains it best in the first two lines.
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doingmypart's Opinion
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04/24/2019
The blind tRump followers seem to have issues with having good honest quality news. They feel that Faux News and Sinclair media produce enough propaganda to meet their consumption. On the other hand, the rest of us want an ethical robust expansion of our existing news media outlets.
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Argument opposed

This bill would allow publishers to collude and exert undue influence, giving the news industry an unfair break that no other industry enjoys. It’s unfair to give one industry a break from anti-trust laws when all other for-profit businesses — including tech companies like Facebook and Google — are bound by anti-trust laws.

Joe's Opinion
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04/23/2019
How about we enforce monopoly laws preventing Facebook and others from gobbling up smaller platforms preventing competition and limiting choice.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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04/24/2019
I’m going to have to go with no on this. It’s not that this is not a problem, it’s that this isn’t the right solution. It would be more effective to pass laws similar to the fairness doctrine that the FCC used to use before Ronald Reagan destroyed that. The rise of Fox News and all of the crazy bias came about after the destruction of the fairness doctrine that made the news tell the truth. So it would be better to insist that our press tell the truth in a balanced fashion, rather than continue the echo chamber effect. Also it would be better to break up the Facebook and Google monopoly’s. Those companies are not good for a democracy and they are controlling our national narrative in a way that is unhealthy.
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Ronald's Opinion
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04/23/2019
This bill is a farce, the news industry is a farce, the election of Trump has caused these phony’s to reveal their true face and character
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law
    IntroducedApril 3rd, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 2054?

This bill — the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019 — would establish a 48-month safe harbor for small publishers to band together to negotiate with dominant online platforms to improve the access to and quality of news online. This bill is narrowly tailored to ensure that coordination by news publishers is only in the interest of promoting trust and quality journalism. Specifically, it’d only allow coordination by news publishers if it: 1) directly relates to the quality, accuracy, attribution or branding, or interoperability of news; 2) benefits the entire industry, rather than just a few publishers, and is non-discriminatory to other news publishers; and 3) is directly related to and reasonably necessary for these negotiations, instead of being used for other purposes.

Impact

Advertisers; media organizations; news organizations; news publishers; newspapers; online content platforms; Facebook; Google; and antitrust law.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2054

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. David Cicilline (D-RI) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to allow local news outlets to negotiate collectively with large online platforms such as Facebook and Google:

“The free press is a cornerstone of our democracy. Journalists keep the public informed, root out corruption, and hold the powerful accountable. This bill will provide a much-needed lifeline to local publishers who have been crushed by Google and Facebook. It’s about time we take a stand on this issue.”

In comments after committing to reintroducing this bill in the current Congress, Rep. Cicilline argued that collective negotiation with Facebook and Google is the only solution to declining ad revenues at traditional news publishers:

“Despite record levels of online readership, news publishers — and local news in particular — have seen a steep decline in revenue during the rise of these technology giants. Whether it’s an online publisher or your local newspaper, we cannot have a democracy without a free and diverse press. Our country will not survive if we do not have shared facts, if corruption is not exposed and rooted out at all levels of government, and if power is not held to account. It is simply not possible.”

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), an original cosponsor of this bill, adds that community journalism has a “critical place” in American democracy:

“Community journalism holds a critical place in our democracy because it helps the American people understand and engage in civil society. Through our bipartisan legislation, we are opening the door for community newspapers to more fairly negotiate with large tech platforms that are operating in an increasingly anti-competitive space. This will help protect journalism, promote competition and allow communities to stay informed.”

The News Media Alliance, which represents over 2,000 local and national news publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, supports this bill. Its president and CEO, David Chavern, says:

“This is a great day for newsrooms across our nation. We are grateful to Chairman Cicilline and Ranking Member Collins for their commitment to quality journalism and we look forward to news publishers having some relief from the platforms that currently regulate who receives our content and how much we are paid. Fair compensation for use of news content will allow news publishers to continue to reinvest in quality journalism.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expressed willingness to begin paying news providers for the content that Facebook delivers to its users. He’s also acknowledged the role that “quality journalism” plays in building informed communities, and argued that Facebook has the means to support quality journalism for its users. Zuckerberg has previously suggested that Facebook could “potentially have a direct relationship with publishers to make sure that their content is available, if it’s really high-quality content.”

NetChoice — an association of commerce businesses that includes Google and Facebook — has signaled its potential opposition to this bill. NextChoice’s VP and general counsel, Carl Szabo, says this bill “empowers big media to circumvent antitrust laws and collude to grow their power.” The Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s president, David Williams, adds that companies “should get equal treatment under the law, instead of big media companies enjoying lucrative exemption from antitrust laws.”

This bill has four bipartisan cosponsors, including three Democrats and one Republican, in the 116th Congress. In the 115th Congress, Rep. Cicilline introduced this bill with the support of one cosponsor, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), and it didn’t receive a committee vote due to lack of Republican support in the GOP-held House in the 115th Congress. This Congress, with Rep. Collins’ support as the House Judiciary Committee’s top-ranking Republican, it may find more momentum.

This bill has the support of the News Media Alliance, American Society of News Editors (ASNE), National Newspaper Association (NNA), Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAM), and 48 state press associations representing 49 states. During the 2018 midterm elections, publishers across the U.S. called on members of Congress to support this bill.


Of NoteThe Pew Research Center reports that in 2017, a majority of Americans accessed the news through only two platforms: Facebook and Google. In 2018, those same two companies earned over $60 billion from online advertising — the majority of which was online ad revenue. Currently, the Facebook/Google duopoly accounts for 90 percent of all digital ad revenue growth and approximately 60 percent of total U.S. digital advertising.

By contrast, news publishers’ annual revenue has decreased by $31 billion since 2006, going from over $49 billion a year in 2006 to $16 billion in 2017. This has devastated newsrooms and directly impacted the quality and quantity of reliable journalism that Americans have access to. According to Pew, from 2008-2017, newsroom jobs decreased by 23 percent, with most of the losses coming at newspapers, where jobs fell by 45 percent from 2008 to 2017. Today, there are around 39,000 reporters, editors and photographers across the country — a 45 percent decline from 2006 numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the downward trend in newsroom employment is set to continue, with a nine percent decline in jobs projected from 2016 to 2026.

As recently as January 2019, media outlets at the local and national levels across the country suffered mass layoffs, resulting in 800 media professionals’ losses of their jobs. After the January 2019 layoffs, HuffPost senior reporter Zach Carter tweeted:

“What is happening to American journalism isn’t a mystery. Google and Facebook are eating this industry alive and taking down American democracy with it. This isn’t happening because of market inefficiencies or consumer preferences or social value. It’s happening because two very large companies have taken the advertising revenue that journalism outlets rely on and replaced it with nothing.”

Current laws prohibit news publishers from taking collective action to negotiate with the large online platforms to develop common rules of the game. The News Media Alliance argues that “in the absence of a safe harbor, [Facebook and Google] will continue to entrench their dominant position in the online ad market and as de facto regulators of free speech on the internet,” thereby posing a “major threat to the future of high-quality journalism.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / bernie_photo)

AKA

Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019

Official Title

To provide a temporary safe harbor for the publishers of online content to collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms regarding the terms on which their content may be distributed.

    Local newspapers are vital to the thousands of small and midsized towns across America. Without the local newspaper, between work and family, most people have no ability to hold their local government to account. The local press is NOT “The enemy of the people”. It is the best available means for the people to know the government that affects their day to day life the most. The best.
    Like (33)
    Follow
    Share
    How about we enforce monopoly laws preventing Facebook and others from gobbling up smaller platforms preventing competition and limiting choice.
    Like (78)
    Follow
    Share
    I’m going to have to go with no on this. It’s not that this is not a problem, it’s that this isn’t the right solution. It would be more effective to pass laws similar to the fairness doctrine that the FCC used to use before Ronald Reagan destroyed that. The rise of Fox News and all of the crazy bias came about after the destruction of the fairness doctrine that made the news tell the truth. So it would be better to insist that our press tell the truth in a balanced fashion, rather than continue the echo chamber effect. Also it would be better to break up the Facebook and Google monopoly’s. Those companies are not good for a democracy and they are controlling our national narrative in a way that is unhealthy.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    A bipartisan bill. Astonishing. I support that. Hector’s comment explains it best in the first two lines.
    Like (32)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill is a farce, the news industry is a farce, the election of Trump has caused these phony’s to reveal their true face and character
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    The blind tRump followers seem to have issues with having good honest quality news. They feel that Faux News and Sinclair media produce enough propaganda to meet their consumption. On the other hand, the rest of us want an ethical robust expansion of our existing news media outlets.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    Hell No! FB is already run by a Facist!
    Like (16)
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    Is this actually in consideration? Wow. Our founding fathers are turning over in their graves
    Like (14)
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    Another piece of useless legislation. Where is a bill to vote on that actually does something good for We The People or is that too much to ask?
    Like (11)
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    Destroying our newsrooms is a crime. Level the playing field.
    Like (11)
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    Put the fairness act back! We cannot have a country where lies are the norm. Not in my reality, at least! To continue on this path of lies and alternate facts is unconscionable on all levels, People! How can we exist when the truth is whatever comes out of your mouth, with little or no accountability? This is not sustainable in a truly, democratic society. How anyone can believe otherwise is beyond me!
    Like (9)
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    Collective bargaining is a good thing Much caution is needed when dealing with social media platforms
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    Collective Bargaining is the only realistic way to deal with the monopolies of Facebook and Google. The fact that it is bipartisan is good to see! This bill is a must pass.
    Like (9)
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    This would help give balance to Google and Facebook’s monopoly. Breaking up Google and Facebook’s monopoly would be the ideal, but until that can be done this is a way to make sure quality journalism is not suppressed or extinguished. A democracy depends on ethical quality journalism and must be protected.
    Like (8)
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    No. From my perspective having a journalism degree and background; the current dissemination of the news is woefully inadequate and terribly biased. It is the responsibility of journalists to report news factually and without bias so the listener can make their own informed decisions. News outlets are not to sensationalize events, demonize individuals, and report bias and opinions as fact. All of this is what is exemplified by the mainstream media. It is fake news! Journalists are to work for factual information and not disrespect those they interview regardless if they have polar opposite opinions or hate the individual. The media is not to report in a manner that incites individuals to violence to create more negative news. The mainstream media has done this al for ratings. The mainstream media has let the American people down and have done a great disservice to this country. There are probably some small media outlets who report factually and without bias, but for sure, I can recommend One America News Network. Unfortunately, some cable companies do not carry this news source which also tells one that there is a bias among the cable company and they own some news networks and tell them how to report. This is also very corrupt.
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    Facebook should be heavily regulated. They no longer serve the greater good.
    Like (8)
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    Not that I’m a big fan of Facebook and Google in any way, but this bill is a little disturbing. Why are media companies working with politicians in order to benefit themselves? The point of the media is to challenge the powerful and our politicians by questioning what they say and do. Allowing media companies, some of whom which benefit from this legislation are not very small such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, to be exempt from anti-Trust laws for a certain period of time throws that separation between our politicians and the media into question. Companies like Facebook, should instead be regulated like public utilities. Their role in the dissemination of information has simply become to large for them to just be regulated as just private companies.
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    Extremely bad idea!
    Like (8)
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    I support the right to collectively bargain
    Like (7)
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    The "News" is losing money because we have no faith in them.
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