Back in December, after the sudden dropping of a bipartisan bill that would have allowed media organizations to jointly negotiate revenue-sharing agreements with Big Tech companies, there was uncertainty about what the media’s next move would be in this ongoing struggle for fair compensation for the content they create.
This week, a California State Assemblymember has taken that next step, introducing the California Journalism Preservation Act, which would require platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay a “journalism usage fee” to news publishers in order to use local-based content.
“These dominant digital ad companies are enriching their own platforms with local news content without adequately compensating the originators,” said bill author and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks from California’s 14th Assembly District. “It’s time they start paying market value for the journalism they are aggregating at no cost from local media.”
In addition to enforcing the usage fee, the CJPA would require publishers to invest 70% of those profits back into journalism jobs. “Studies have shown that communities without local journalism suffer consequences ranging from declining civic engagement and lower voter turnout to higher taxes and increased public corruption,” Wicks said. “In that sense, legislators from virtually every corner of the state have a vested interest in ensuring that quality local journalism is preserved.”
The bill received immediate support from both the California News Publishers Association and the News/Media Alliance, whose Executive Vice President Danielle Coffey applauded the Assemblymember and said, “we hope Congress takes note and follows suit by reintroducing legislation at the federal level.”
Last year, just before the larger, bipartisan Journalism Competition and Preservation Act was spiked from Congress’ defense-spending legislation, Facebook threatened to remove news from its platform altogether were the proposal come to pass. “The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act fails to recognize the key fact,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted at the time. “Publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around. No company should be forced to pay for content users don’t want to see and that’s not a meaningful source of revenue.”
The CJPA will be known in the assembly as AB 886 as it is considered this session.