- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A House Republican is pushing changes to a proposed crackdown on Big Tech to allay conservatives’ concerns that the bipartisan bill would inadvertently empower Big Media at the expense of conservative voices.

The amendment by Rep. Ken Buck would explicitly prohibit technology companies from discriminating against news publishers based on political orientation.

The Colorado Republican said his amendment would erase any doubt about the bill treating news organizations equally in making deals with companies such as Facebook and Google.

“This is not about discrimination,” Mr. Buck said. “This is about making sure Google and Facebook don’t take an unfair share of the advertising for news media.”

The bill, titled the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act, would allow publishers to collectively negotiate terms with Facebook and Google on posting news articles online.

The new negotiating power is intended to give news organizations better footing in deal making with tech platforms that currently dominate distribution and advertising in the news industry.

Mr. Buck is a co-sponsor of the bill. The legislation also is supported by a coalition of news publishers that includes The Washington Times.

Facebook and Google are lobbying lawmakers in opposing the bill, according to Mr. Buck, saying that effort also motivated his drafting of the amendment to shore up Republican support.

Republicans have expressed reservations about the proposal.

During a March hearing on the bill, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio warned that it threatens to give established media organizations cartel power over other news creators.

“Now we have legislation that’s going to give Big Media this consortium and cartel power,” he said. “The same time we’re looking to use antitrust law to deal with Big Tech, we’re going to give an antitrust exemption to Big Media. Maybe that’s the right course, but I got real questions about that.”

Mr. Buck said that Mr. Jordan, whom he called a friend, had the issue wrong.

Mr. Jordan’s office said it had not seen Mr. Buck’s amendment.

Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat who leads the House’s antitrust panel, introduced the bill in March. Mr. Buck is among five Republican co-sponsors.

Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, with Republican co-sponsors Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

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