There is a bill currently under consideration in Congress known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act that would, in effect, force internet search engines and social media platforms to pay a fee to the media for the “right” to post links and informative snippets for news articles.
Should that bill become law, however, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, has warned that it could block and remove all news content from its platforms in response, Breitbart reported.
In addition to the forced transfer of wealth from Big Tech to the media, the outlet further noted that the controversial bill would result in the creation of a “cartel of media conglomerates” that would actually substantially reduce competition among journalistic outfits and bolster otherwise failing establishment outlets while freezing out smaller alternative media sources.
Meta’s head of communications, Andy Stone, posted a statement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg to all of the various major social media platforms that expressed his deep disapproval of the JCPA bill.
Meta statement on the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act: pic.twitter.com/kyFqKQw7xs
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) December 5, 2022
“If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, 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 statement said.
“The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act fails to recognize the key fact: publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around,” Zuckerberg continued. “No company should be forced to pay for content users don’t want to see and that’s not a meaningful source of revenue.”
The statement added, “Put simply: the government creating a cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidize other private entities is a terrible precedent for all American businesses.”
Favoring Big Media over Big Tech
The JCPA, more formally known as S.673, was first filed in March 2021 by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and has since been co-sponsored by 14 other senators evenly split between both Democrats and Republicans.
A summary of the measure states: “This bill creates a four-year safe harbor from antitrust laws for print, broadcast, or digital news companies to collectively negotiate with online content distributors (e.g., social media companies) regarding the terms on which the news companies’ content may be distributed by online content distributors.”
In other words, a bipartisan group of senators is prepared to cast aside vital anti-trust laws and allow Big Media corporations to band together to force Big Tech companies to pay them for providing access to users for news content and links that have forever been provided for free.
Ideologically diverse opposition to media cartel bill
Libertarian-leaning media outlet Reason recently decried the JCPA as being a “doozy of bad incentives and state favoritism” that would likely have a hard time passing as a stand-alone bill, hence a recent effort by some senators to get the measure attached to another “must-pass” bill like the National Defense Authorization Act or an omnibus spending bill.
The outlet cited critics who opposed the bill as “cronyism” and collusion that would destroy the concept of a free and “open internet” by essentially allowing a conglomerate media cartel to dictate the terms of the distribution of information.
Interestingly enough, while there is a bipartisan group of mostly establishment politicians who are pushing this bill, Reason noted that there is a broadly ideologically diverse group of organizations and politicians, ranging from conservative and libertarian to leftist progressives, who have allied together to try and stop this monstrosity from becoming law.