NAB Praises Hill Progress on Big Tech Targeted Bill

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a markup of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act for Thursday (August 4), but the National Association of Broadcasters expects that to be held over until after the August recess.

At press time, it was still on the committee agenda.

The bill would give "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.

NAB was still giving the Senate props for signaling it would move on the legislation.

“The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act levels the playing field between local media outlets and the big tech gate keepers that today leverage their market power to devalue our trusted news and community-focused content," said NAB President Curtis LeGeyt. "NAB applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee for scheduling a markup of this important, bipartisan legislation and we thank Senators Klobuchar and Kennedy, Chairman Durbin and the bill’s sponsors for their leadership. Broadcasters will continue to work with policymakers to advance this critical legislation.”

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; 2) are marketed via subscriptions, advertising, or sponsorship.

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They include 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 online content distributors publishers get to collectively negotiate with must have one billion active users per month on all their websites worldwide, so it is clearly aimed at the biggest platforms.

Publishers under the News Media Alliance banner have for years been trying to get Congress to give news publishers a limited safe antitrust harbor so they can get tech platforms, Facebook and Google most notably, to pay for use of their content given that they "take most of the advertising revenue sold against that content," adding that "advertising revenue that previously went to the news publishers and allowed them to reinvest in quality journalism is now going to the platforms."

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The bill said the joint negotiation is only allowed so long as negotiations are 1) not limited to price (no price fixing); 2) are nondiscriminatory as to similarly situated news content creators; 3) are directly related to the "quality, accuracy, 13 attribution or branding, and interoperability of news;" and 4) involve terms available to all news content creators.

The coordination among bidders has to be "directly related to and reasonably necessary for negotiations with an online content distributor" and [cannot] involve any person that is not a news content creator or online content distributor. ■

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.