Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA)

Recognizing the dominant power of Big Tech and its threat to local journalism, the JCPA would create a temporary antitrust exemption to allow eligible broadcasters and certain other digital publishers to jointly negotiate with a dominant online platform regarding access to their content.  An “eligible broadcaster” holds or operates under an FCC license and engages in certain routine journalistic activities (e.g., updating content at least weekly).  While the “big 4” television networks are not eligible for the joint negotiation, the bill covers those network’s owned and operated, local stations.

Revised bill text includes changes to foster productive negotiations.  For example, negotiations must be non-discriminatory, conducted in good faith, and include reasonable offers. Broadcasters and publishers have recourse in the event the platform does not negotiate in good faith, engages in discriminatory conduct, or retaliates against broadcasters and publishers for participating in joint negotiations (e.g., refusing to index content). Publishers (not broadcasters) have an option to pursue final-offer arbitration if they are unable to reach an agreement with a platform following good-faith negotiations.

NAB and state broadcast association continue to work on gaining cosponsors and urge consideration of the JCPA as part of any larger process on a bundle of big tech antitrust bills.  At this point, it remains a toss-up on whether the House or Senate Judiciary Committee will act first on the JCPA in the coming weeks.

Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying Act (PRESS Act)

Earlier this month, the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying Act (PRESS Act) (H.R. 4330) – which would ensure protection for journalists’ sources at the federal level – passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by voice vote.  Introduced by Reps. Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Ted Lieu (CA-33), and John Yarmuth (KY-3), the PRESS Act would prohibit the federal government from compelling a covered journalist to disclose information identifying a source or documents obtained or created as part of engaging in journalism unless a court determines that such disclosure is necessary to prevent an act of terrorism or to prevent a threat of imminent violence, significant bodily harm, or death.  Similarly, the federal government would be prohibited from compelling a service provider to provide testimony or any document/communication stored by the provider on behalf of a covered journalist, including testimony or any document relating to a personal account of a covered journalist or a personal technology device of a covered journalist, unless a court determines that there is a reasonable threat of imminent violence.

It seems likely that this legislation will make it to the House floor. Additionally, Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) leads a substantively identical bill, titled the Protect Reporters from Excessive State Suppression Act (PRESS Act) (S. 2457).

Senator Schatz’s resolution in support of local news

On April 27, Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) introduced a resolution designating April 2022 as “Preserving and Protecting Local News Month” to recognize the importance and significance of local news.  The resolution would affirm the essential function to democracy that local news serves, and acknowledge the valuable contributions of local journalism towards the maintenance of healthy and vibrant communities.

Federal Contracting for Peace and Security Act 

In March, House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) introduced the Federal Contracting for Peace and Security Act (H.R. 7185), which would prohibit federal procurement from companies operating in the Russian Federation.  Recognizing the importance of allowing news media organizations to continue journalistic activities and news reporting in Russia, and in response to stakeholder engagement that included NAB, Rep. Maloney agreed to amend the bill and create a carveout for journalism, news reporting, and the dissemination of information or informational materials.  The bill, as amended, passed out of her committee by voice vote.