Big Tech: Media Antitrust Exemption Would Create News Cartels

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Gary Arlen)

Big Tech is beating up on broadcast consolidation as it pushes back on a bill that would give broadcasters and other original news creators an antitrust exemption to negotiate with the tech giants that leverage that original content online.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association issued a pull-no-punches statement— the term “cartel” was used multiple times — following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s favorable referral of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (S. 673) to the Senate for a vote.

The CCIA said the bill would create a “news cartel” while failing to solve the issue of compensation for original news creation.

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The bill gives “news content creators” — print, broadcast or digital — an antitrust safe harbor to negotiate collectively with digital platforms like Facebook and Google for carriage of their original content.

While the idea behind the bill is that Big Tech is so big that broadcasters need the scale of joint negotiations to get fair compensation, the CCIA suggested the concentration shoe was on the other foot. “The Computer & Communications Industry Association has defended competition in the marketplace for 50 years and fought media consolidation and mergers including Comcast-NBC and Sinclair-Tribune,” it said.

Also: NAB Praises Progress on Big Tech Bill

“The JCPA continues to be an unprecedented government overreach,” CCIA president Matt Schruers said. “It encourages the creation of a media cartel which will impose link taxes, and it threatens to hamstring digital services’ efforts to moderate dangerous content with ‘must-carry’ obligations.

“While objective journalism is critical to informing voters, inserting federal regulators into private sector business negotiations, mandating carriage of what the government thinks is ‘news,’ and promoting cartels is an irresponsible way to encourage an independent and robust news media,“ Schruers added. ■

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.