Meta Threatens to Pull News Over Journalism Preservation Act

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Gary Arlen)

In a potential win for broadcasters and other traditional news content producers, the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) has been appended to the must-pass Defense Authorization Act military funding bill, and one of Big Tech's biggest is threatening to remove news from its platform if the legislation passes.

The JCPA would create a four-year safe harbor during which news content producers could jointly negotiate with tech platforms without risking a fine for antitrust violations.

Big Tech and fans of fair use copyright exemptions have pushed back hard on the bill, which is designed to give creators of original news, like local broadcasters, more leverage over their content's re-use online.

They argue the bill will help big broadcasters rather than the smaller entities it purports to benefit.

Also: NAB Praises Progress on News Negotiations Bill

Meta (formerly Facebook), tweeted Monday (December 5) that if Congress passes the "ill-considered" bill as part of the national security legislation, "we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions." 

Meta said the bill fails to recognize that "publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line--not the other way around," adding: "No company should be forced to pay for content users don't want to see and that's not a meaningful source of revenue."

National Association of Broadcasters President Curtis LeGeyt has said the bill "levels the playing field between local media outlets and the big tech gate keepers that leverage their market power to devalue our trusted news and community-focused content."

Specifically, the bill grants publishers immunity from federal and state antitrust laws for a 48-month period while they bargain collectively with digital platforms.

News content creators are defined as ones with 1) a dedicated professional editorial staff that creates and distributes original news and related content concerning local, national, or international matters of public interest on at least a weekly basis, and 2) are marketed via subscriptions, advertising, or sponsorship.

Also: News Outlets Promote Value of Local Content

The definition includes operations that provide original news and related content at least 25% of which is current news and related content, or broadcast original news and related content per an FCC license.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association has aid the bill would create a “news cartel” while failing to solve the issue of compensation for original news creation. ■

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.