On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act and eventually put it before a full Senate vote.
The bill, which is said to help news organizations negotiate fairer terms with online platforms that share their content, such as B. Social media company, was approved by a vote of 15 to 7. It was introduced last year by a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both houses of Congress, including Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado.
As written, the bill would effectively allow non-network news organizations with fewer than 1,500 full-time employees to circumvent antitrust laws by forming a group with other news organizations to negotiate prices and other terms for licensing their content.
In a statement Thursday, Klobuchar said, “Local news is facing an existential crisis, with falling advertising revenues, newspaper closures and many rural communities becoming ‘news deserts’ without access to local coverage.”
She added: “To maintain strong, independent journalism, we need to ensure that news organizations are able to negotiate on an equal footing with the online platforms that have come to dominate news distribution and digital advertising.”
The passage of the bill by the Judiciary Committee has seemed uncertain for the past few weeks, largely due to opposition from Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who attempted to include an amendment that would remove the antitrust exemption if moderation of content is controlled by either Social -Media company or mention is made of the negotiating group representing news organizations.
Republicans have falsely claimed that the content moderation guidelines unfairly target conservatives, when the guidelines themselves only address issues such as hate speech and offensive language.
Nonetheless, Cruz and Klobuchar have reportedly reached an agreement to pass the bill outside of committee, saying the negotiations are “solely to reach an agreement on pricing and terms.” Cruz told the Washington Times he agreed with Klobuchar that Big Tech is benefiting from an “unfair system” that allows companies to publish stories without compensating content creators.
A number of tech industry groups and some activist organizations slammed the bill in a letter to lawmakers earlier this month, arguing it could unfairly force platforms to broadcast some content, including material seen as extreme. The coalition also claims that it is wrong for platforms to have to pay for content that people can share on their sites for free.
It is not yet clear when the bill will go to the Senate for a vote. But if the law goes into effect, it will drastically change the relationship between organizations that create online content and the platforms they use to share their work.