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Bill introduced to help publishers bargain with tech giants

U.S. Capitol Building dome is visible as cherry blossom trees bloom on the West Lawn, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
U.S. Capitol Building dome is visible as cherry blossom trees bloom on the West Lawn, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

NEW YORK – News publishers would gain greater power to negotiate terms with Facebook and Google under terms of a bill filed Wednesday in the House of Representatives.

The proposal aims to give newspaper and digital publishers who have been struggling financially the right to bargain collectively with the tech giants. The publishing group says revenue has plummeted by $31 billion since 2006, due primarily to the disappearance of advertising.

Publishers are more optimistic about the legislation, which has failed in the past, because it now has bipartisan support. Congress in general has been taking a greater interest in the tech giants’ operations.

The bill is being sponsored by Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat, and Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, a Republican who is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

The News Media Alliance, which represents the publishers, say the right to work together would give them a better chance to negotiate licensing fees for use of their stories. They also want access to data collected by Facebook and Google about who reads their work.

They want the companies to give better exposure to the news organizations that produce articles on their sites and notice of when the companies change algorithms that suddenly make certain work less visible, said David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance.

The publishers say that Facebook and Google is now responsible for 90 percent of all digital ad revenue growth.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association, which advocates in Washington on behalf of the Internet companies, said they had no immediate comment on the proposal.

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