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TAB Advances Journalism Preservation Act in Congress

- Bipartisan Effort to Level Playing Field with Big Tech

In a series of meetings last week with Texas members of Congress TAB advanced new bipartisan legislation seeking an anti-trust exemption to allow the broadcast and print journalism industries to collectively negotiate the terms on which their content may be distributed by tech giants like Facebook and Google.

HR 1735, The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, reflects increasing concerns among journalists and policymakers regarding the technology behemoths’ use of news content produced at considerable cost by news organizations, with additional investments in websites, social networks, mobile apps, and other online platforms to be available wherever audiences may be.

The measure was filed in the House by Reps. David Cicilline, D-RI, and Ken Buck, R-Colorado. It’s identical to legislation in the Senate, SR 673, filed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and John Kennedy, R-LA.

Loss of Revenue and Control
The tech giants exert enormous influence over what online content is eligible to be monetized and are using local news content to grow their revenues while draining local media markets of the advertising revenues needed to sustain local journalism.

Despite news organizations’ efforts to diversify their distribution channels, the tech platforms control not only the share of revenue they retain, but also the amount passed on to content providers, and no news organization is large enough to exercise negotiating leverage with Big Tech.

Beyond diverting advertisers and much-needed revenue away from local broadcasters, the digital platforms also control the algorithms and other technologies that power search and discovery.

These tools and unilateral decisions by online platforms impede local journalists’ ability to connect with their audiences online by changing the rankings of search results, favor certain news sources over others and often steer users toward controversial content over high-quality journalism.

A BIA Advisory Services research analysis commissioned  by NAB and released last week estimates local TV newscasts lose about $1.873 billion annually from Google Search and Facebook News Feeds.

Track Co-Sponsors
TAB is asking the Texas congressional delegation to co-sponsor HR 1735 and SR 673. Co-sponsorships can be tracked online – just enter “HR1735” or SR673” in the search bar.

Future of Local News Act
Separately, members of Congress concerned about reports by industry watchers and advocates on “news deserts” and the demise of local journalism have introduced the Future of Local News Act in hopes of identifying policies and proposals that could “reinvigorate” local news.

The measure, which was introduced in the House by Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Dallas, would create a 13-member commission to explore the challenges facing local news enterprises.

The appointees from diverse regions of the country would include members of Congress and representatives from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Agency for Global Media, but none from the private sector.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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