by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Kentucky senator Rand Paul is signing on to a bill attempting to help a struggling industry, print and digital news organizations, by giving them more power to negotiate the terms under which Google and Facebook may distribute their content.
Current antitrust law forbids news organizations from banding together to negotiate terms of distribution and advertising rates, but the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would provide a four-year exemption to existing antitrust laws for “news content creators” to collectively negotiate with “online content distributors” that have at least one billion active users each month (i.e., Google and Facebook). “Government threatens the viability of trusted news sources through old and outdated restrictions on the ability of those sources to survive in an evolving media environment,” Paul said in a written statement Monday to National Review. “We need to get government out of the way, which is why in addition to cosponsoring the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019, I will also be introducing legislation to free broadcast media from the chains that restrict their ability to better serve their customers.”
The bill is backed by the News Media Alliance, a trade association representing more than 2,000 newspapers, and it has bipartisan cosponsors (Louisiana Republican senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy as well as Democratic senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Dick Durbin of Illinois). The libertarian Paul provides a boost of support for the bill on the right.