In the United States Congress, Democrats have currently submitted a bill, written by Senator Amy Klobuchar – who is a staunch critic of Big Technology and a strong supporter of strengthening America’s competition laws, called the “Competition Act and Preserving Journalism”. .
The bill aims to level the playing field by allowing newspapers and other media organizations to join forces to negotiate a larger share of online advertising revenue.
Right now, media houses have to negotiate individually, but collectively the hope is they will be able to force Meta and Alphabet, which are world leaders in digital advertising, to share more revenue. It is estimated that advertising sales for newspapers in the US have fallen by 52 percent between 2002 and 2020, writes MarketWatch.
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Through Facebook, Meta is one of the world’s largest providers of news worldwide, and they reacted strongly to the bill. Among other things, tech companies claim that the bill will allow the government to create “cartel-like businesses that require one private company to subsidize another private business” and they believe it will set a bad precedent for all American businesses, wrote MarketWatch.
Meta’s director of communications, Andy Stone, posted a message on Twitter in which he wrote that the company would be forced to consider removing the news from the platform if legislation was passed, rather than being forced into negotiations that “unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.
Australia leads the way
Australia introduced a similar law in 2021 that gives the government powers to force online companies to negotiate deals with media for the provision of content. This led to Facebook banning news in the country, before changing its mind after a few days. A review of the law conducted last week showed it was functioning as intended, wrote Reuters.
At the weekend, New Zealand Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson also came out and said they wanted to introduce new legislation that would force big tech companies like Alphabet and Meta Platforms to pay media companies from the island nation. Jackson said the law would be based on similar laws in Australia and Canada, and he hoped it would be an incentive for digital platforms to enter into agreements with local newscasters.
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