U.S. agency needs new powers to protect local news industry: senator

In this news, we discuss the U.S. agency needs new powers to protect local news industry: senator.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States Federal Trade Commission needs new powers to protect the struggling US local news industry from unfair competition from big tech companies, a senior US lawmaker has said.

Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a report on Tuesday that “local news has been hijacked by a few major news aggregation platforms, including Google and Facebook, who have become the dominant players in online advertising. “

The report adds that “Trillion dollar companies are grabbing local news content and data for their own sites and leverage their dominant market position to force local news to accept little or nothing for their intellectual property. “

Google scours the web for headlines and story snippets, while Facebook features content posted by publishers or users and “receives billions in profits from topical content created by others,” the report said.

The general managers of Facebook FB.O Twitter Alphabet-owned TWTR.N and Google GOOGL.O will testify Wednesday at a Senate Trade Committee hearing that is expected to discuss their impact on local journalism.

Local US media, which have already faced declining print media revenues, have seen their advertising revenues drop in the face of the COVID pandemic. According to the report, US newspapers would likely cut at least 7,000 employees in 2020, leaving only about 30,000 newsroom jobs.

Cantwell told Reuters that “beyond making sure that they (local news outlets) live to fight another day,” Congress must tackle the “unfair competition” faced by local news outlets that “hold governments to account” and provide other services.

“We don’t want to lose this in digital transformation,” she said.

This month, Google announced plans to pay publishers around the world $ 1 billion for their news over the next three years.

In March, Facebook said he was making a $ 100 million investment to support the news industry amid the pandemic.

Neither company commented before the report was released.

By the end of 2020, total U.S. newspaper revenues are expected to have fallen by around 70% since 2005, while newsroom employment has fallen 59%, according to the report.

Legislation is pending in Congress that would give news editors a four-year safe zone to negotiate with Facebook, Google and other platforms collecting the bulk of online ad revenue.

Cantwell’s report noted that Google and Facebook “Control 77% of local digital ad revenue.

Reporting by David Shepardson. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Original © Thomson Reuters

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