Legal News: Journalism Competition and Preservation Act

AAN has joined a growing list of organizations endorsing the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” which has been introduced by Representative David Cicilline (D-RI). This bill promises to have a substantial positive impact on journalism by freeing publications from the need to conform their news presentation to the norms required by online content distributors such as Google and Facebook.  The current landscape requires publishers to play by the rules dictated by these platforms or not be seen.  Given the financial power exerted over individual publishers by the platforms, there is really no one-on-one negotiation possible.

The legislation will change that, allowing  “news content creators” (defined to include (1) a print or digital entity that (2) has a dedicated professional editorial staff that creates original news on at least a weekly basis and (3) makes money via ads, subscriptions or sponsorship) to join together to negotiate with “online content distributors (identified as an online platform with at least 1 billion users) for a short period of time as long as:  (1) negotiations do not relate to price, (2) negotiations do relate to terms that would apply across News Content Creators as a whole, (3) coordination between News Content Creators is limited to matters related to this act, and (4) negotiations do not involve any party that is not a News Content Creator or Online Content Distributor.

“AAN members have been among the leading innovators when it comes to digital distribution of our content but struggle to find a foothold in getting that content distributed through major platforms. This problem is only getting worse as those platforms are also now competitors in terms of content aggregation and distribution, as well as advertising,” said AAN President Molly Willmott of the Memphis Flyer.  “The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act offers a short term opportunity to level the playing field and allow us to find workable solutions that benefit all participants involved in the digital distribution of news and information.   We look forward to working with Rep. Cicilline and other members of Congress to pass this bill.”

Rep. Cicilline has provided a Fact Sheet on the bill.   AAN members also are invited to contact Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 for more information as we hope you will lend your voices to this effort by urging your members of Congress to sponsor or vote for this bill.