House Dem wants to let news industry organize against tech platforms

House Dem wants to let news industry organize against tech platforms
© Greg Nash

A House Democrat introduced a bill on Wednesday that would allow media outlets to band together to negotiate for better terms with giant tech platforms that have been dominating the market for online ad revenue.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineSenate Dems introduce bill to block release of 3D printed gun blueprints States sue Trump administration to block 3D printed guns House GOP refuses to boost funding for election security MORE's (D-R.I.) Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would grant a temporary antitrust waiver for news publishers to collectively negotiate with companies like Facebook and Google.

"Our democracy is strongest when we have a free, open press that informs citizens, holds public officials accountable, and roots out corruption," Cicilline, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement.

“This bill empowers local newspapers to negotiate collectively with the biggest technology platforms to ensure consumers have access to the best journalism possible."

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The News Media Alliance (NMA), a trade group representing hundreds of large and small outlets, has been pushing for such legislation. Last year, the group urged Congress to grant a waiver to the industry, arguing that tech giants have been squeezing them out of coveted ad dollars.

"We are grateful to Congressman Cicilline for his commitment to ensuring fair competition with the platforms and for his work to preserve quality journalism,” David Chavern, NMA’s CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. “Our industry depends on our ability to continue to invest in stories that report the truth and hold our public officials accountable."

The majority of ad dollars online go to Facebook and Google, companies that many Americans also rely on to get their news. Publishers have criticized the companies for cutting into their revenue streams and have called for regulators to crack down.

Earlier this year, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch urged the tech giants to start paying outlets carriage fees for delivering their content.