U.S. Sens. Kennedy, Klobuchar file legislation to protect newspapers from social media giants

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U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) filed the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to allow news publishers, including the struggling newspaper industry, to collectively negotiate with digital platforms such as Google and Facebook for the preservation of quality journalism. At issue is the development of an uneven playing field for the delivery of news content.  The majority of Americans now get their news from Google or Facebook.

Those social media giants decide what news their users read – whether it’s clickbait, “fake” news or quality news stories.  Those companies also control most digital advertising revenue. Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Klobuchar’s bill will suspend federal and state antitrust laws for 48 months while the negotiations are ongoing. “At the heart of this bill is helping newspapers survive amid shrinking circulations and massive layoffs.  Google and Facebook now control the news kingdom.

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They’ve pitted themselves against newspapers in a David-and-Goliath battle in which newspapers don’t have a stone to throw much less a slingshot to put it in.  The readers are the true losers as newsrooms empty out across this country,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Google and Facebook aren’t just companies.

They’re countries.

We can’t allow them to bully newspapers out of business.” “Without honest and trusted journalists reporting around the world and here at home, what is out of sight truly becomes out of mind — but we’re seeing more and more independent and local news outlets close as ‘fake news’ rises,” said Sen. Klobuchar.

“It’s more important than ever that we protect the free press and establish an even playing field for negotiation with online platforms.  Our bipartisan legislation will improve the quality and accessibility of reporting and ensure that journalists are able to continue their critical work.” In Sen. Kennedy’s home state, the bill is supported by multiple newspapers.  News Media Alliance, a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,000 news organizations, also is an advocate of the legislation.

“The Advocate and the Louisiana Press Association thank Sen. Kennedy for sponsoring this bill. Local newspapers compete on an uneven field with internet giants. This bill would allow us to negotiate for more fairness,” said Dan Shea, publisher of The Advocate. “We are thrilled that two bipartisan leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have championed this legislation, which speaks to its widely understood importance,” said News Media Alliance president & CEO David Chavern.

“We are grateful to Senators Kennedy and Klobuchar for their commitment to quality journalism and we look forward to news publishers soon having the ability to negotiate with the platforms that currently control who sees our content.”