ANA to Hill: CCPA Rules Threaten Financial Health of Journalism

The Association of National Advertisers said that the new browser obligations in the proposed implementing regulations of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are "a regulatory hammer blow against the anvil of the pandemic-driven pullback in the broader ad market." 

That came in a letter to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in response to a letter from the congressman on a related subject, keyword filtering.  

Schiff had written to ANA and other ad associations last week asking their members to lift or alter restrictions on ads appearing in pandemic-related articles online--the idea behind the restrictions being that some of that content is an inappropriate ad vehicle, depending on the product or service.

Related: ANA Pushes to Delay CCPA Enforcement Mandate

Schiff is concerned that such word-blocking could further hurt ad-starved news outlets. 

"If online advertisers block terms like ‘coronavirus’ and ‘pandemic’ across advertising channels, publishers are unable to turn increased clicks and reporting into dollars, thus hampering their ability to provide vital health-related reporting to the American public when they need it most," he told ANA in his letter.

But in its response, ANA said that the ad industry "has moved quickly and aggressively to ensure that ad-supported news media is not adversely impacted by overly broad keyword filtering of content related to the novel coronavirus," and that the CCPA browser issue was a graver threat to journalism's finances. They urged Schiff to contact the California Attorney General's office about the issue ASAP to prevent "codification of these dangerous gatekeeper standards." 

ANA CEO Bob Liodice said in a letter to Rep. Schiff that the CCPA implementing rules "would require news publishers and other digital entities to accept default opt-out signals – not choice affirmatively selected by a consumer – that are funneled through browsers or browser extensions, putting those entities in the role of “gatekeepers” by allowing them to block the revenue of news publishers and other sites." 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.