US Lawmakers Propose Bill to Help News Media

    11 March 2021

    U.S. lawmakers from both major political parties are supporting legislation that makes it easier for media companies to negotiate deals with internet companies.

    The bill is aimed at making it easier for news organizations to negotiate collectively with companies like Google and Facebook.

    Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative David Cicilline of the Democratic Party are introducing the legislation. Senator John Kennedy and Representative Ken Buck, both Republicans, are co-sponsors.

    The bill comes after Facebook had a legal fight with Australia over how much money publishers should make from their social media pages. During the dispute, Facebook blocked Australian news pages and only permitted their return after the government compromised. Facebook also promised a $1 billion investment in the news industry.

    Google and Facebook logos, words
    Google and Facebook logos, words "media, news, media" and Australian flag are displayed in this illustration taken, Feb. 18, 2021.

    The measure would permit print, broadcast or digital news organizations to work together to gain better deals from Facebook and Google during a period of time. During that time, they would not be subject to antitrust laws meant to prevent big companies from unfairly influencing or controlling markets. The bill would require the negotiations to aid news publishers generally rather than a small number of companies.

    Klobuchar said she was hopeful about the possibility of the measure becoming law. She said there is growing concern among lawmakers from both parties about monopolies, companies that control too much of a market or industry.

    Speaking about internet companies commonly called "technology" companies, Klobuchar said: "Tech has no mercy." She said the bill would permit negotiations on "everything from advertising revenue to access to information on subscribers."

    "This bill will give hardworking local reporters and publishers the helping hand they need right now, so they can continue to do their important work," Cicilline said in a statement.

    Klobuchar noted that most people now get their news online through Facebook and Google.

    Social media companies use news to get the attention of users and have been accused by news publishers of not sharing advertising revenue with them. The legislation could mean that struggling news organization would receive more money for their products.

    Employment at U.S. newspapers has dropped by about 50 percent since 2008. One reason is that money from advertising has gone to big internet social media businesses. Those numbers come from Pew Research which also says changing media behaviors are to blame.

    Small publishers using Google's advertising sales technology have said for years that their bigger competitors are getting more money from the search engine.

    Cicilline is a chairman of the Judiciary antitrust panel in the House of Representatives. It will hold a hearing on the matter on Friday.

    I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

    Reuters reported this story. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    sponsor –v. to take responsibility for something; to organize or support something

    revenue –n. money that is made by or paid to a business

    access –n. a way of being able to use or get something

    subscriber –n. someone who pays money to receive a publication or service

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