Senate panel approves bill to give news organizations more power against tech platforms

A new 3D-printed Facebook brand logo, Meta, is seen in front of the Google logo displayed in this illustration taken November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to approve a bill to allow news organizations to unite to negotiate with Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) and Facebook’s Meta (META.O) and earn more income.

The bill passed the committee by a 15-7 vote, according to a congressional aide. It must now go to the Senate for its approval. A similar bill is before the US House of Representatives.

The bill aims to give news and broadcast organizations more clout after years of criticism that big tech companies use their content to attract traffic and ad revenue without fairly compensating publishers, many of whom have financial difficulties.

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The bill, led by Democrat Amy Klobuchar, attracted some Republican support, with Senators John Kennedy and Lindsey Graham sponsoring it. Other Democrats, like Sen. Alex Padilla, have had reservations about it.

The bill hit a speed bump earlier this month when Sen. Ted Cruz won support for a plan to include provisions to tackle what he sees as platforms stifling conservative voices.

On Thursday, Klobuchar won support for an amendment that clarified that prices for using content were the issue.

“The purpose of the bill is to allow local news organizations to obtain compensation when big titans, monopolies like Facebook and Google, access their content,” she told a session. in committee to vote on the bill.

Unlike other bills aimed at curbing big tech, some progressive groups oppose the measure, including Public Knowledge, on the grounds that it favors big broadcasters like News Corp, Sinclair and Comcast/NBCU.

Two tech industry trade groups to which Facebook and Google belong also oppose the bill: the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice.

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Reporting by Diane Bartz; edited by Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Diane Bartz

Thomson Reuters

Focused on US antitrust as well as corporate regulation and law, with experience covering the war in Bosnia, elections in Mexico and Nicaragua, as well as stories from Brazil, Chile, Cuba, from El Salvador, Nigeria and Peru.

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