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 CicillineFirst House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons Hillicon Valley: O'Rourke proposal targets tech's legal shield | Dem wants public review of FCC agreement with T-Mobile, Sprint | Voters zero in on cybersecurity | Instagram to let users flag misinformation Democrat calls for public review of T-Mobile-Sprint merger agreement MORE (D-R.I.) and Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDOJ: Epstein was removed from suicide watch after being cleared by psychologist The United States broken patent system is getting worse Democratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal 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.”