POLITICO Morning Tech: Sohn’s FCC nom hits 1-year mark

October 26, 2022 Media

FIRST IN MT: WHITE HOUSE PUSHED TO BACK JCPA — A group of progressive policy advocates and journalism organizations are calling on the Biden administration to back the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, S. 673, ahead of the lame duck.

In a letter sent yesterday to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and White House competition policy adviser Tim Wu, the groups — including American Economic Liberties Project and the News Media Alliance — called the bill a “bipartisan solution to Big Tech’s exploitation of small and local news media organizations.”

— A refresher: The bipartisan legislation from Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) would create an exemption from federal antitrust law for most newspapers and broadcasters, allowing them to collectively negotiate with Google and Meta’s Facebook over advertising rates. Organizations with more than 1,500 employees (such as The New York Times and The Washington Post) would be excluded from the bill’s protections.

— Headwinds: While the JCPA advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 15-7 vote last month, moderates and progressives remain split on the bill. That’s in part due to support from Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz(R-Texas), who successfully introduced an amendment that some fear will enable the spread of disinformation and hate speech. Others have raised concerns that the bill could undermine copyright law and benefit large media outlets at the expense of small ones — leading to a strange coalition of tech lobbyists, libertarian groups and progressive advocates lining up to oppose the legislation.

— Use that bully pulpit: The senders of yesterday’s letter want Biden to rally Democrats and progressives around the JCPA before a new Congress scuttles the progress made so far. And they warned the president not to believe claims that it would undermine content moderation — they called that argument “misleading” and claimed it “misrepresents the contents of the bill.”

— Limited bandwidth: Democrats likely won’t have time to pass several antitrust bills in the lame duck. If they prioritize anything, it’ll probably be the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, S. 2992, which the White House has already backed publicly. 

A White House spokesperson did not respond for comment. Nor did spokespeople for Klobuchar and Kennedy.