Senate Judiciary advances journalism bargaining bill targeting Big Tech

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The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation on Thursday that would give news organizations the power to jointly bargain against Meta, Google and other online platforms for a greater share of online advertising revenue.

The legislation would create an antitrust exemption allowing radio and TV broadcasters, as well as small news outlets with fewer than 1,500 employees, to “band together” and arrest the decline of local journalism in cities and states across the country, said its lead co-sponsors, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy.

The concept, a version of which became law in Australia in 2021 and since been proposed in numerous countries, has been vigorously opposed by tech giants who in some cases have threatened to pull news content from their platforms over the legislation.

Meta and Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The measure cleared the committee by a vote of 14-7. But it faces an uncertain future on the Senate floor.

One member of the committee, California Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla, voted against the bill Thursday and vowed to block any future floor vote on the legislation until lawmakers make several changes.

Padilla said the legislation doesn’t do enough to ensure that actual journalists in local newsrooms will benefit from the bargaining, as opposed to hedge funds and publication owners. He also raised concerns that the bill as written could allow online platforms such as Google to charge individual internet users each time they attempt to share or click on a link to a news article, a practice Padilla warned would be harmful to the internet.

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