Twenty years ago, you likely went to your front porch to pick up your newspaper in the morning or flipped on your TV to catch the news before work.
Ten years ago, you likely went to your favorite news website directly to see what was happening in your community and across the country.
Now, you likely peruse Facebook, Twitter, Google, or YouTube for the latest happenings.
The transformation of our news and information economy has given Big Tech companies unprecedented control over what news you see — or don’t see.
This power represents a grave threat to the future of our republic and the conservative movement. Just last year, Americans witnessed firsthand the power of Big Tech over our political debate and elections.
Not only did Facebook and Google hide news stories damaging to Democrats, but Silicon Valley barons like Mark Zuckerberg used their billions to interfere in our electoral process.
Conservative news outlets like Newsmax, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, Townhall.com, and RedState.com have all come out in favor of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) to claw back control from Silicon Valley.
The balance of power between the publishers of original news content and the Big Tech platforms that deliver it to consumers is tilted heavily in favor of the platforms, especially Google and Facebook.
These two companies capture up to 70 cents of every ad dollar spent while producing none of the content and determining which content we see. This means they decide that you can’t read conservative news and that conservative media can’t make a profit.
The JCPA empowers publishers to meet Big Tech at the bargaining table and negotiate payment for their valuable content. "The JCPA would benefit all publications — large and small, national and regional—that create original news content online," the coalition of leading conservative publications wrote in a letter to Congress.
"Its benefit to news publishers and broadcasters with an editorial voice is critical, as we are all potential victims of viewpoint discrimination by the big tech companies."
The bill not only has the support of several patriotic news outlets, but many conservative congressmen such as lawmakers: Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., Greg Steube, R-Fla., and Burgess Owens, R-Utah.
Some have dishonestly argued that this bill will end up empowering Big Media like The New York Times and The Washington Post. It won’t. The Wall Street Journal reported: "The latest version of the legislation would apply only to news outlets with fewer than 1,500 employees."
This means that large liberal outlets won’t benefit from the same negotiating ability that will be granted to smaller, more independent outlets.
The bill will bloody Facebook’s nose and protect conservatives from discrimination online.
Rep. Buck is adding language to the JCPA to make it crystal clear the platforms can never discriminate against publications based on their political orientation, and that news publishers themselves cannot discriminate or exclude publications from joining their collective.
Furthermore, the measure will contain language that ensures small publishers are granted the same deal as larger publishers.
In other words, the criteria upon which compensation will be calculated applies to all publishers uniformly, not just the big guys, and the platforms must come to the table and negotiate in good faith with all publishers without picking off the most attractive publishers.
Under Buck’s proposed language, the platforms also cannot retaliate, such as downranking news publishers’ content, because they assert their rights under this legislation.
There is legitimate concern that Google and Facebook will still undercut less attractive publishers and pay them scraps.
A strong enforcement mechanism would guard against this.
A reasonable offer must be made by the platforms which considers outside commercial deals already made, investments in newsrooms, and the offer cannot be offset by the imaginary revenue from traffic — which should belong to the publishers anyway.
If that still doesn’t get small publishers an equitable deal, news publishers can invoke arbitration after a period of good faith negotiations.
The JCPA provides a course correction to the monopolistic practices of Big Tech and levels the playing field for small and independent media companies that conservatives have come to rely upon to get their news without a liberal slant.
As they say, knowledge is power.
If Republicans in Congress don’t act soon, a few Big Tech companies will continue to strengthen their control over the flow of information in our country.
That is a recipe for disaster and political ruin.
Mike Davis is the founder and president of the Internet Accountability Project.
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