California lawmakers are pushing back against big tech companies such as Facebook and Google by proposing a bill that would require them to pay for the use of news content from publishers. The proposed legislation, known as the California Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, would also mandate that publishers reinvest the fees collected from tech companies in journalism jobs.
This bill closely resembles a federal bill that was previously introduced, which aimed to allow publishers to negotiate content distribution terms with tech giants collectively. However, this bill faced strong opposition from the digital ad behemoths, who claimed that it would submit them to “government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets.”
News publishers and Big Tech are teeing up for another journalism policy fight, this time in California.
I offer one point of view from labor’s perspective; we’ll see if my fellow California journalists agree. https://t.co/eELVvAXmiu pic.twitter.com/1xBg2jiOo4
— Matt Pearce ? (@mattdpearce) March 20, 2023
The proposed California bill is the first of its kind at the state level and could ignite another major standoff between Silicon Valley and media groups. The bill’s authors argue that it is necessary to address the news industry’s decline and loss of advertising revenue to tech giants, such as Facebook and Google.
In recent years, many countries have proposed or implemented rules aimed at forcing tech companies to share their advertising revenue with traditional publishers. However, such efforts have met with significant resistance from the digital ad giants. For example, Meta (formerly Facebook) threatened to remove news content from its platform if a federal proposal to this effect was passed.
Similarly, Google threatened to block news content in its search engine in Canada earlier this year in response to a similar proposal. The companies issued similar threats in response to new rules in Australia.
If passed, the California bill would represent a significant shift in the balance of power between tech companies and media groups. Although there is no guarantee that it will pass, the proposed legislation is likely to intensify the ongoing debate over the relationship between big tech and the news industry.