R Street Institute fellow Josh Withrow broke down how corporate media giants would be empowered by the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) this weekend, in a segment of Breitbart News Saturday with Matt Boyle on SiriusXM.
In the segment, Withrow anticipated what defenders of the media cartel bill would try to argue if a rumored new draft were to circulate.
“I just want to warn against a counternarrative which they’re going to push out there,” said Withrow. “Rumor has it there are different drafts of a new version of the bill that are floating around right now, and one of the things that reportedly they are going to do is to put away this claim that it’s going to be the big news corporations that benefit, by putting a cap on how many employees you can have to join this news cartel, and they cap it at something like 1,500 employees or whatever they end up settling on.”
“In theory, that would eliminate groups like Fox News, it would eliminate groups like the Wall Street Journal. But in practice, if you actually look at the ownership of all of the medium-sized news outlets that would still be covered by this bill, they are all owned by the large national companies. It would still be the big guys who have most of the seats at the table, just via proxies.”
“There are two macro-level problems within this bill,” said Withrow. “The first of which is that, as you’ve said, the sponsors of this bill, Senator Amy Klobuchar and then a host of bipartisan cohorts in the Senate, they claim that this is the bill that’s going to save local journalism from the ravages of Big Tech.”
“I would first argue that that narrative is more than half untrue, and the other thing they hide is the way they go about doing that is they enable this news cartel to potentially start taxing or claiming a property ownership of links to their content, which would fundamentally undermine the way in which information is freely shared on the internet, so it threatens the free distribution of content that we’ve all enjoyed on the internet for the past twenty years.”
“What does Congress do when there’s a major problem, they try to make it worse I guess,” said Boyle.
“What it’s going to do is it’s going to let these big media companies, your Newscorps, your McClatchys, these giant corporations to siphon all of this money into themselves, and they’ll use that money to continue what they’ve been doing for decades anyway, which is buying up all of the smaller outlets,” continued Withrow.
“You mention News Corporation, they run Fox News and the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post among other places. They are aggressively lobbying for this,” continued Boyle. “One of their executives is the nominal head of this group called the News Media Alliance which is the special interest group, it’s a 501(c)6, which is an industry trade group… They’ve made political donations, aggressively, to members, to try and push this thing through. You can track the cosponsorship of the legislation to political donation from somebody at News Corporation or one of these other companies that would benefit from this, pretty closely.”
“That shows you what’s on the line here,” said Boyle. “These big media companies know they’re going to make out like bandits if they get this thing through, and that’s why they’re openly pushing for it.”