The US Congress has cut the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) after Meta warned it would “consider removing news” from its platform.
Two industry groups, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice, who represent Amazon, Google, and Meta among others, said they would launch extensive ad campaigns against the bill.
The bill would have allowed publishers to negotiate collectively with big tech companies — similar to our own News Media Bargaining Code which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said had been a “success to date.”
In the US, however, Meta said that the bill would create “a cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidise other private entities.”
The JCPA had been considered so critical by US legislators that they mooted attaching it to the must-pass annual national defence spending bill.
Meta’s statement continued:
“We will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.
“The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act fails to recognise the key fact: publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line – not the other way around.”
However, there was also opposition to the bill from advocacy groups and thinktanks in the US. Public Knowledge, for example, co-signed a letter with 26 other bodies saying that the bill would create an “ill-advised” antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters.
It also said that the bill would permit a news outlet to bring legal action against a social media platform to hold it liable for “limiting the reach of content” that “the platform owner finds offensive or contrary to its terms of service or community standards.”
“This is a direct assault on a bedrock principle of content moderation on the internet, and will increase the amount of networked disinformation, hate speech, and harassment found there. This form of government mandate for covered platforms to carry and pay is also contrary to First Amendment protections.”
For what it’s worth, Public Knowledge along with many of the other signees, receives major funding from the likes of Google, Twitter, and TikTok.
Where the bill goes from here seems uncertain. The lead proponent of the bill, Senator Amy Klobuchar, said politicians “must” find a way to improve news compensation. The Los Angeles Times, News Corp, and others have said the law is necessary to counter years of declining ad revenues.