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NMA: Facebook is De Facto News Publishing Regulator

The News Media Alliance has issues with Facebook's reported plan to set up a section where it pays to license news content--it currently aggregates and recommends stories, but does not pay to do so. NMA said the edge provider is a "de facto regulator of the news publishing industry" and "can't be trusted" with its future.

NMA's concerns include "which publishers would be included, what kinds of terms they would be offered, and what it would mean for local journalism in particular."

Not that actually paying for content is a bad thing. In fact, NMA has said that is crucial to the future of independent journalism.

"Licensing and paying for news content is a good idea, and continued access to quality journalism would be an absolute good for Facebook users," said NMA president David Chavern, but making sure that bargain is a fair one still requires some lifting from inside the Beltway.

NMA has been pushing Congress to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would give news outlets an antitrust carveout to be able to negotiate collectively, increasing their muscle versus the edge giant.

"We are also still faced with the fact that Facebook holds vastly greater bargaining power than any single publisher, even the very largest ones," he said. "Facebook is already a de facto regulator of the news publishing industry and simply can’t be trusted to determine the future of our free press. Publishers need an even playing field to collectively fight for quality journalism — and we need to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to get us there."

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.