Senators agreed to tweak the legislation to add safeguards for conservative media against online censorship as part of a bipartisan agreement on a bill meant to offer news organizations bargaining power against Big Tech on Wednesday, senators revealed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), which closely exempts relatively small publications from antitrust laws if they establish a collective bargaining group, is designed to assist media groups in their negotiations with technology companies like Facebook and Google for payment over the use of their content. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and John Kennedy of Louisiana, both Republicans, and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota reached an agreement on Wednesday to make it clear that negotiations about content moderation are not part of these negotiations with tech companies, despite Cruz’s push for it to be.
According to a copy of the bill amendment received by the DCNF, the agreement essentially excludes discussions on how to restrict or suppress content from the law’s purview, barring journalistic organizations from working with tech companies to silence or censor conservative voices. Additionally, the bill would outlaw discrimination against other publications by media companies that are members of the collective bargaining group based on their “size” or “opinion expressed,” such as conservative or independent publications.
According to Kennedy’s office, “We have come to an understanding that makes clear what the measure was supposed to do: provide local news outlets a true place at the negotiation table and ban the digital giants from limiting, censoring, suppressing or curating information. The only justification I can think of for parties opposing this law is because they don’t like free speech or good market competition.”
Cruz had proposed an amendment to the bill earlier this month, citing the frequent stifling of conservative views on social media, that would have prevented news organizations from working with online platforms to restrict information. Bipartisan support for the bill was destroyed by the amendment, which stopped it from being passed.
The text of the bill states that under the new agreement, no agreement between publications and tech platforms will be able to control how the latter “displays, ranks, delivers, suppresses, promotes, throttles, labels, filters, or arranges the material of the qualified digital journalism providers” and users of social media.
Early on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the proposal.