Seven leading journalism, media and pro-consumer antitrust advocacy organizations sent a joint letter to President Biden on Jan. 30 calling on him to highlight, in his upcoming State of the Union address on Feb. 7, the importance of local journalism.
The St. Clair News-Aegis strongly supports this call to action.
The letter highlights the urgent need for congressional action to preserve a strong democracy and a free press. Specifically, the letter urges Biden to call on Congress to advance the bipartisan Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) (S. 673 and H.R. 1735). The legislation will give small, local news outlets the ability to join together in negotiations that will level the playing field with Big Tech platforms. Small and local publishers currently do not have the ability to negotiate jointly for fair payment to counter the dominant power of Big Tech platforms. That imbalance allows tech monopolies to capture the vast majority of U.S. digital ad revenue, leaving local publishers with little to reinvest in the production of high-quality journalism.
The organizations that signed on to the letter include the News/Media Alliance, National Newspaper Association, America’s Newspapers, Authors Guild, American Economic Liberties Project, Inter American Press Association and the Radio Television Digital News Association.
The letter outlines the plight of local news, in which news publishers have been forced to play by Big Tech’s rules of the digital advertising playing field for years, resulting in the loss of more than a quarter of U.S. newspapers since 2005 and the spread of news deserts across the country. In their letter, the groups underscore the importance of passing the JCPA as the best solution to ensuring news publishers are compensated fairly for use of their content by the dominant tech platforms, asking Biden to call on Congress to pass the bill, which was introduced in the 117th Congress in 2021 and successfully marked up by the Senate Judiciary Committee last September. In addition, the groups ask Biden to call on Congress to pass the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which would incentivize investments in local journalism through the tax code.
The letter states in part:
“While America has long been a beacon of light when it comes to freedom of the press, that light has grown dimmer due to the monopolistic shadow of the Big Tech giants. The largest tech platforms dominate revenue streams online, with Google and Facebook in control of an estimated 60 to 70 percent of digital ad markets. These anticompetitive behaviors are further highlighted in the Justice Department’s recently filed lawsuit against Google, which alleges monopoly abuse by the company in the online advertising market.
“To stop that light from going out and allow America’s free press to continue to contribute to our nation’s resilience and serve as a model of democracy to the world, we need bipartisan action from Congress. The local news outlets we represent and others that prioritize a free press ask that you use your State of the Union address to call on the House and Senate to urgently advance key legislation to your desk that will help save local journalism.”
The JCPA has broad support, not only in Congress in both the House and the Senate (on both sides of the aisle — including 90 total co-sponsors), but also from more than 300 consumer interest groups, unions, conservatives, advocacy groups and third-party organizations that have shown support for the JCPA by sending letters of support to the bill sponsors. In addition, more than 24,000 individuals have signed a Change.org petition for the bill and nearly 1,000 editorials and op-eds in support of the JCPA have been published in newspapers in 48 states across the country. In a recent poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Schoen Cooperman Research for the News/Media Alliance, 70 percent of Americans said they support Congress passing the JCPA.
With the News/Media Alliance
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