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Broadcast Associations Urge Senate to Vote on JCPA

Ask for help to compete with “tech behemoths” that have “upended the advertising marketplace”

Fifty state broadcast associations are asking the U.S. Senate to vote on the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act before Congress goes home.

The associations told Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell that the bill, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Kennedy, R-La., “would allow broadcasters and other news publishers to jointly negotiate with the dominant online platforms regarding the terms and conditions by which their content may be accessed online.”

The associations say that “tech behemoths” with “enormous market power” have upended the advertising marketplace and are threatening the survival of local broadcasters and other news publishers.

“These platforms often act as gatekeepers of online content — exerting power over what internet users access and how advertisers reach them. The JCPA is an urgently needed first step toward countering Big Tech’s market dominance.” They said the bill is “urgently needed by local broadcasters and other news publishers so that they can continue to serve local communities around the country.”

They noted that the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the Senate floor in a bipartisan, 15 to 7 vote.

“We understand that there is precious little legislative time left on the Senate calendar before the end of the 117th Congress, and that there are a number of competing legislative priorities,” they wrote, but they urged the Senate leaders to act on the bill, “whether on its own or with a package of other legislation addressing other aspects of Big Tech market dominance.”

Opposition to the bill comes from groups like the Cato Institute, which wrote in September that the bill “would deliver a one‐​sided carve‐​out from antitrust law – and only to a specific industry. It forces platforms to engage in negotiations in ‘good faith,’ subject to final and binding arbitration if no deal can be reached, while banning the platforms from simply delisting forms of content.” Cato concluded: “This will open up a legal minefield, but the impulse is clear: to force payments to journalists from tech companies. As such, this bill is incompatible with free markets and voluntary, mutually beneficial negotiation.”