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House bill introduced that would temporarily legalize digital news publisher collusion against Facebook and Google

The ranking member of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), introduced a bill yesterday that would legalize the collusion of digital news publishers in negotiations with Facebook and Google. ASNE, NNA, and AAN support the bill, as do many state-level media organizations.

Read the full bill.

From the Congressman’s provided fact sheet:

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act establishes a 48- month safe harbor for the free press to band together to negotiate with online platforms to improve the access and quality of news online. Importantly, the safe harbor is narrowly tailored to ensure that coordination by news publishers is only in the interest in promoting trust and quality journalism. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act only allows coordination by news publishers if it (1) directly relates to the quality, accuracy, attribution or branding, and interoperability of news; (2) benefits the entire industry, rather than just a few publishers, and are non-discriminatory to other news publishers; and (3) is directly related to and reasonably necessary for these negotiations, instead of being used for ulterior purposes.

The bill is positioned as a free market friendly effort, and says that platform dominance is different than a healthy free market because high-quality creators are disadvantaged in favor of cheap media, which can subsist more easily on the minor revenues passed through by Facebook and Google.

I’m not one to have any informed opinion on whether this bill could pass. But very interesting indeed…

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