Sen. Cruz Adds Safeguards to Protect Free Speech in Journalism Antitrust Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement regarding his amendment to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) (S. 673):
“Today I secured significant protections against Big Tech censorship with an amendment to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2022. The changes that I successfully fought for would prohibit the media and Big Tech from negotiating over or agreeing to censor content. The prohibition against censorship not only protects the content of the journalists whose outlets may be negotiating with Big Tech but it critically protects the speech of journalists and smaller media outlets who don’t have a seat at the table. This is a major win for free speech and it strikes a blow against the virtual monopoly that Big Tech has to limit the information that Americans see online. The bottom line is Big Tech hated this bill from the start and now they hate it even more.”
- Big Tech currently has an effective monopoly over the way news content is distributed online and, in turn, is able to control what news Americans can see.
- This monopoly also enables tech platforms to squeeze small and local broadcasters and publishers, collecting the lion’s share of advertising revenues produced by Big Tech’s use of local news content.
- As the Washington Examiner noted, “For every dollar [small publishers] spent advertising online, Google and Facebook keep about half. This is why, even though traffic to news sites is up 40% since 2014, news media’s revenues are down 58%.”
- This approach is simply unfair as it denies news outlets the ability to be paid fairly for their work and content.
- On September 8, 2022, during the Senate Judiciary Committee Business Meeting on the JCPA, Sen. Cruz expressed his support for the idea that Big Tech should pay the fair market value for news content they monetize and distribute. At the same time, Sen. Cruz expressed concern about the persistent and ongoing pattern of censorship that seems to only target conservative voices. Sen. Cruz thus conditioned his support for JCPA on the inclusion of meaningful protections and prohibitions against censorship.
- After weeks of negotiation, Sen. Cruz secured robust protections to prevent censorship. Specifically, the bill now protects against content moderation and censorship by limiting the bill’s antitrust exemption only to discussions of pricing terms while explicitly excluding any discussions or agreements between Big Tech and media outlets that concerns content moderation.
- As the Daily Caller noted, “the deal effectively places negotiations on how to censor or suppress content outside the scope of the bill, thereby preventing news organizations from colluding with tech companies to suppress or censor conservative voices.”
- The inclusion of language that prohibits online censorship by Big Tech is a landmark accomplishment, and will provide the model for future bills that will safeguard free speech online.
- Predictably, Big Tech and their special interest friends are unhappy. They have spent millions trying to kill the bill, lobbying Republicans and Democrats alike to preserve their monopoly.
- The National Association of Broadcasters added in a statement today: “Additionally, we appreciate the constructive engagement of Sens. Cruz and Padilla who entered the markup with substantive legislative concerns, but worked to address them through the amendment process in a way that allowed the bill to move forward.”