Journalism Compensation Proposal Omitted From Defense Package

Journalism Compensation Proposal Omitted From Defense Package

A bill that would empower news organizations to negotiate pay from big tech companies that carry their content has been dropped from a defense package after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle raised concerns about how it would affect the news ecosystem.

The must-pass annual defense policy bill, released late Tuesday, is one of the few ways left to get legislation signed into law this year as floor time dwindles. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (S. 673) was one of several measures, including energy permitting and changes to the Boeing Co. 737 MAX certification process, lawmakers sought unsuccessfully to add.

Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), pushed back against Democratic efforts to include items they view as extraneous. GOP lawmakers have also raised concerns about the journalism bill’s effects on the types of content shown on tech platforms, and some companies and civil liberties groups have advocated against it.

On Monday, Meta Platforms Inc., which runs Facebook and Instagram, threatened to stop carrying news on its platforms if the bill passed.

Despite assurances from bill sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that the bill wouldn’t affect content moderation, some GOP lawmakers said they were concerned it would censor conservative viewpoints, while some Democrats have warned it could allow for disinformation and hate speech.

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) said in an email is isn’t clear his concerns about the bill’s impact on disinformation and hate speech have been addressed.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill earlier this year with an amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to address content moderation concerns. A coalition of conservative news outlets also has come out in support of the bill.

Cruz backed including the measure in the defense package.

“I’d rather see it through regular order,” Cruz said. “That being said, with my amendment protecting free speech, I voted for it in committee, and so if it remains unchanged I would continue to support it on the merits.”

Klobuchar reiterated the need for the bill Tuesday, saying “we literally are going to lose one-third of the nation’s newspapers by the year 2025. In one quarter, Google made $66 billion in ad revenue while newspapers and little radio stations folded left and right. It is about our own national future and national security.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Curi in Washington at mcuri@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com