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Gannett lobbies Congress for ant-trust exemption

Print media seeks government help to battle Facebook, Google

By David Wildstein, September 11 2019 10:31 am

Executives from the several large American newspapers, including Gannett, were in Capitol Hill yesterday to lobby for their own survival.

The newspapers are lobbying Congress to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would offer the newspaper industry four years of immunity from anti-trust laws as they battle tech platforms like Facebook and Google in a bid to become economically viable.

They are seeking revenues for their content that are often reduced when Facebook or Google offer just snippets of the stories with the newspaper monetizing the click-through on the story.

The media companies also want access to some of the data the tech platforms have amassed.

“The major tech platforms act as our regulators.  They stand between news publishers and most of our readers, and determine everything about the relationship,” News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern told Axios. We need the ability to organize ourselves and fight for a sustainable future for quality journalism.”

The legislation currently being considered by Congress has no co-sponsors from the New Jersey delegation.

In New Jersey, a proposed acquisition of the Gannett chain by GateHouse will put ten daily newspapers under a single ownership.  Advance Publications owns five other dailies, with Digital First Media possessing the Trentonian and Berkshire Hathaway owning The Press of Atlantic City.

Within the last 27 years, New Jersey has dropped from 23 daily newspapers – all with local news bureaus and individual editorial boards – to 17 with staffs that are a fraction of the size of their past and in many cases, without editorial writers commenting on local issues.

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