Media Alliance Seeks United Front Against Google, Facebook

The News Media Alliance is calling on Congress to give them the power to negotiate collectively with edge behemoths so they can claim some of the ad dollars bypassing them on their way to Google and Facebook.

In an op ed Monday (Feb. 26) in the Wall Street Journal, Alliance President David Chavern said that Rep. David Cicilline (R-R.I.) plans to introduce a bill that would give news publishers an antitrust safe harbor that would allow such collective negotiation with "big tech platforms."

The Alliance represents about 2,000 publishers, mostly newspapers.

Related: FTC Could Cast Gaze on Big Tech

"The news business is suffering," Chavern wrote, "but not because people don’t want news. They do—more than ever. The problem is that the money generated by news audiences flows mostly to Google and Facebook, not to the reporters and publishers who produce excellent journalism."

He said that digital duopoly now grabs 83% of all digital ad revenue growth and 73% of U.S. digital advertising, according to a CNBC report.

“Facebook and Google have become the primary and de facto regulators of the news business, and governments around the world are starting to recognize the danger,” Chavern said, while the Federal Trade Commission failed to act on a 2013 inquiry into the pair's "anticompetitive practices," he said, adding that the least the U.S. government can do is get out of the way and let news outlets try to protect themselves and their audience.

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.