A bill known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act is gaining traction in Congress that could enable "final offer" arbitration, sometimes called "baseball arbitration," for the remuneration of online content. Smaller publishers argue that it would level the playing field by allowing news organizations to band together for a larger share of advertising revenue pie, though Big Tech feels quite the opposite. In fact, Facebook-owner Meta (NASDAQ:META) has even threatened to remove news content from its U.S. platform, in a case that resembles warnings seen Down Under after similar legislation passed in Australia last year.
Quote: "If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions," tweeted Meta (META) spokesperson Andy Stone.
"The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act fails to recognize the key fact: 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 creating a meaningful source of revenue. Put simply: the government creating a cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidize other private entities is a terrible precedent for all American businesses."
How did things end in Australia? Facebook (META) went through with a threat to ban news from its website in March 2021, but reversed its decision several days later by brokering a deal with the government. Among the amendments was a clause stipulating that digital platforms and news groups would be required to mediate for two months before subjecting them to mandatory arbitration. The government would also take into account existing commercial agreements and give digital platforms a month's notice before reaching any final decision on the law's application.