In what could be the latest battle between the U.S. government and Facebook, bipartisan members of Congress plan to introduce a bill in the coming weeks to make it easier for smaller news organizations to collectively negotiate content deals with Facebook and other Big Tech platforms, Reuters has learned exclusively.
Congressman Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust committee, told Reuters the bill would allow those outlets to team up when negotiating deals without facing anti-trust scrutiny, and called Big Tech (quote), “The biggest threat to the free market economy.”
The bill would be introduced at a time when Australia is in a fierce battle with Facebook. The social media giant blocked news feeds and other pages - including those of charities, and health and emergency services - as part of a dispute over a proposed law that would require it and Google to pay news outlets for their content, or agree on a price through arbitration.
Social media companies use news stories to attract customers, but have been accused by publishers of not sharing enough advertising revenue with them. The legislation could boost sales in the struggling news business – where employment is down 50% since 2008 amid tumbling ad revenue and changing media habits.
While Facebook has fought publishers, Google has struck deals with them in France, Australia and other countries.
Facebook and Google did not respond to requests for comment.
Google announced this week that it had agreed to a global deal with News Corp that involved “significant payments” to the news organization, in one of the most extensive deals of its kind.