US lawmakers propose Australia-style bill for media, tech negotiations

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Co.) and Microsoft president Brad Smith at a House hearing on regulation and competition in the news media industry on March 12, 2021.

Enlarge / Rep. Ken Buck (R-Co.) and Microsoft president Brad Smith at a House hearing on regulation and competition in the news media industry on March 12, 2021.
(credit: Drew Angerer | Getty Images)

A group of US lawmakers is proposing new legislation that would allow media organizations to set terms with social media platforms for sharing their content, reminiscent of a controversial measure recently adopted in Australia.

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2021 basically creates a temporary 48-month carve-out to existing antitrust and competition law that would allow small news outlets to join forces to negotiate as a collective bloc with “online content distributors” such as Facebook and Google for favorable terms.

“A strong, diverse, free press is critical for any successful democracy. Access to trustworthy local journalism helps inform the public, hold powerful people accountable, and root out corruption,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), when introducing the proposal. “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.”

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