Both Google and Meta have taken steps to start paying US publishers for aggregating their news content, but neither tech giant has yet found a perfect solution that would fairly compensate publishers and potentially help combat the mass shuttering of newsrooms across America. The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook stopped its program paying US publishers in July, and more recently, media outlets haven’t been thrilled by terms of Google’s “News Showcase” program, either, and were mostly resisting partnership.
In the latter case, WSJ reported that some media outlets were holding out on joining the News Showcase for a very specific reason. They were waiting to see what happened with a new bill—the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act—which seemed like a better deal. If passed, the JCPA would force Google and Meta to pay US news publishers collectively bargaining for fair payment. However, now, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has introduced a new amendment to the JCPA which, the Chicago Tribune reports, was narrowly approved this week. And Cruz’s new stipulation may have effectively killed the previously bipartisan bill by diminishing Democratic support, thus crushing US publishers’ supposed dream deal.
What Cruz has suggested is an amendment to prohibit tech companies and news organizations from using the collective bargaining tool to collude on efforts to censor content. While the bill itself waives an antitrust agreement so that news organizations can collectively bargain with tech companies, Cruz says that this key antitrust exemption would not apply if during the negotiation process anyone “engages in any discussion of content moderation.”