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Bi-partisan bill would push Big Tech and Big Media to make content distribution deals

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Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC], Sen. Kennedy, John [R-LA], Sen. Booker, Cory A. [D-NJ], Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI], Sen. Lummis, Cynthia M. [R-WY], Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA], Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME], and Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY] are all backing a bill that empowers mainstream media at the expense of smaller outlets and independent content creators.

The senators are co-sponsoring the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act which has been accused of actually hindering competition.

We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.

Instead of promoting competition in the world of media, the bill would allow mainstream media companies, like CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MSNBC to form an alliance and collectively bargain with Big Tech platforms.

These mainstream outlets would be able to form new deals with online platforms that would force tech platforms to uprank their own content at the expense of independent content creators and independent voices.

The bill has a provision allowing legacy media to exclude companies that are not “similarly situated,” meaning independent journalists and small media companies will not get the benefits of the bargains with Big Tech.

Tennessee’s Senator Marsha Blackburn has warned the bill would result in more censorship by Big Tech. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio aired similar concerns, saying the bill would strengthen the “collusion between Big Media and Big Tech.”

“Big News and Big Tech team up and filter the news,” said Senator Blackburn. “And really take control of what you hear and what you see when it comes to news. When I go to Tennessee I hear a lot about this from Tennesseans. And they don’t like it. They feel that their views are not being represented. And they’re very concerned about whether they can or cannot trust mainstream media.”

Among the people who testified during a hearing was Dr. Daniel Francis, a professor at Harvard and a former official at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Blackburn asked Dr. Francis this year: “Do you think companies like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube would stand to benefit from an antitrust exemption, and what bad behaviors could they get away with if they did get that exemption?”

“In the event that this were created, two things would happen,” Dr. Francis responded. “The first is that the most immediate beneficiaries would be the participating media companies, obviously including some very large conglomerates.

“And certainly, the cartel overcharge that would emerge from agreements on prices would be paid in the first instance by Google, Facebook, and then transmitted most likely in the form of higher prices for advertising, down the chain to consumers.”

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