House duo pushes to let news outlets band together against Facebook and Google

A bipartisan pair of House leaders want to let news outlets join together to negotiate with Facebook and Google for a greater share of online ad revenue.

Reps. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineJustice to recommend blocking T-Mobile-Sprint merger: report The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push House Democrats press leaders to start Trump impeachment MORE (D-R.I.) and Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsConservative filmmakers organizing stage play based on Strzok-Page texts: report The Go-Go's rock the stage at annual 'We Write the Songs' DC concert The Hill's 12:30 Report: McGahn inflames Dem divisions on impeachment MORE (R-Ga.) introduced a bill Wednesday morning that would grant publishers a waiver from antitrust laws in order to engage in collective bargaining with internet giants.

“The free press is a cornerstone of our democracy,” Cicilline said in a statement. “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.”

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Critics of Facebook and Google have argued that the companies’ stranglehold on the digital advertising market has shrunk the amount of ad revenue left for media outlets, making it nearly impossible for local newspapers to survive.

The two companies combined took in about 58 percent of all internet ad revenue generated in 2018, according to an analysis by eMarketer.

Cicilline, the chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust and an outspoken critic of the internet giants, introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act last year, but with no Republicans in the GOP-held House on board, the bill went nowhere.

Now that Collins, the top Judiciary Republican, has signed on, the bill may find greater momentum.

“Community journalism holds a critical place in our democracy because it helps the American people understand and engage in civil society,” Collins said in a statement. “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.”