Today, Public Knowledge sent a letter urging Congress to protect and promote a free press without exempting news companies from antitrust laws. Public Knowledge argues that this exemption would just lead to self-interested bargaining between large news companies and digital platforms — leaving consumers and citizens out. The American Antitrust Institute, Consumer Reports, and Consumer Federation of America also joined the letter.
The following is an excerpt from the letter:
“We recognize that the news industry is facing serious economic challenges in the Internet Age that threaten to impair the quality and variety of news available to consumers.
“Public policy intervention may be warranted to help protect and promote the viability of a competitive free press, which plays a critical role in our democracy and in holding both our government and powerful private interests accountable.
“Congressional action, along with more vigorous enforcement of existing law, to help promote more vibrant competition in the changing markets for news may well be warranted. However, creating a new statutory antitrust exemption for news content creators is not the way to cure market problems or to improve market conditions. Creating a new antitrust exemption will only hurt consumers, citizens, and businesses that are not invited to the negotiations that this exemption is supposed to facilitate.
“[A] new antitrust exemption is unlikely to actually work to promote a more viable press or bring small newspapers back to profitability. Even negotiating with a large group of news companies, a platform may still reject the group’s offer. This would be a terrible outcome, leaving citizens with less access to high-quality news than they have today.
“We stand ready to work with Congress as it explores constructive ways to help promote a robust, competitive free press, and help promote competition across news distribution channels that advances vital diversity in the media. A new antitrust exemption should not be one of them.”
You may view the full letter here.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.