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News Publishers Say Tech Industry Poses 'Potentially...

J. Scott Applewhite


In the first of what promises to be many hearings by Congress into Big Tech's dominant role in the information society, the head of a media industry group says that "a small cadre of tech giants exercise an extreme level of control over news."

David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, a group representing about 2,000 news organizations in the U.S., told a House Judiciary subcommittee that despite efforts by media groups to invest in their own online platforms, apps and other formats, the rise of digital news distribution has introduced "new, potentially existential threats to the news industry."

Chavern spoke in support of bipartisan legislation that would allow online publishers to work together to bargain with tech platforms, such as Google, potentially to share revenue. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act is sponsored by antitrust subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga.

A study by Chavern's group estimates that $4.7 billion is earned annually by Google thanks to search advertising revenue through links to news content.

That study, though, has faced criticism since its release on Monday.

Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, told NPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday that the Judiciary subcommittee's hearing was part of efforts to "take on some of the bigger issues that arise in the tech sector."

She said government needs to enforce antitrust laws, saying, "We have not seen vigorous antitrust enforcement in the U.S. for many decades now, and my organization has advocated strongly for that for 20 years."

But she said breaking up the tech companies, as some politicians are calling for, is "putting the cart before the horse" and would be "a heavy lift" for antitrust laws.

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