News content

EDITORIAL: It’s time for Big Tech to pay for news content

Since 2000, the United States has lost almost half of its newspaper circulation, with 31 million fewer dailies in circulation, according to Pew Research. Meanwhile, for the surviving independent newspapers, their advertising revenues have fallen from $49.4 billion in 2005 to around $9.6 billion in 2020.

The main culprit that threatens local journalism today? Great technology.

Google and Facebook rigged the system by stealing content created by local newspapers and monetizing it for themselves, directing traffic to their own sites. They also censor what content is seen or not seen, drowning out or outright silencing strong conservative voices.

Google and Facebook dominate over 60% of online ad spend and 45% of all ad spend in the United States. Two-thirds of all Google searches don’t even result in a click outside of Google. While local newspapers lost nearly $40 billion in ad revenue between 2005 and 2020, Google’s ad revenue fell from $6.1 billion to $146 billion over the same period.

Since its acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007, Google has acted as a middleman between advertisers and publishers online, pocketing roughly half of all online sales. So, for example, if a local business spends $500 advertising on our pages, The Washington Times will get $250 and the tech giant will get $250.

To make matters worse, US antitrust laws are structured to protect big media from competing with smaller ones. News outlets like The Washington Times are prohibited from joining The Washington Examiner or others in collective bargaining with Google for better online placement and increased compensation for our content. News Corp., Disney and CBS have the financial clout to take advantage of better results from Big Tech.

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), currently being debated in the Senate, would change all that.

The bipartisan bill would force Big Tech to pay for the content it aggregates, allowing publishers with fewer than 1,500 employees to bargain collectively. Major news outlets would be prohibited from entering into special deals with Big Tech or facing heavy penalties. No publisher can be excluded from the process for ideological reasons. A federal arbitrator would help with the negotiation and ensure fair terms are given to news outlets in exchange for the use of their online content. Such arrangements have already been used in Australia, with excellent results.

The bill was introduced by Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Louisiana Republican John Kennedy. He quit the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 15-7 vote last week after Ms Klobuchar reached a deal with Texas Republican Ted Cruz to toughen language in the legislation to ban media and big tech to negotiate or agree to censor. contents.

“This is a major victory for free speech and a blow to the virtual monopoly Big Tech has to limit the information Americans see online,” Cruz said of the bill after the announcement. adoption of the amendment. “At the end of the day, Big Tech hated this bill from the start and now they hate it even more.”

A recent poll by Schoen Cooperman Research, commissioned by the News Media Alliance, shows broad public support for the JCPA. Nearly 4 in 5 Americans worry that big tech companies have too much power over the news and publishing industries and are manipulating these industries for their own gain. Seventy-six percent agree that “Big Tech’s monopoly over the news and publishing industries is a threat to the free press and unfair to publishers, especially small outlets local”.

It is time for Congress to work to level the playing field. We commend the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for moving the JCPA forward last week and offer our continued support for this bill to become law.