California Moves Big Tech News Bill to 2024, But Holds Firm

Having passed the California Assembly June 1 with bipartisan support and moved on to the Senate, the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA) has been kicked over to the next term, becoming a two-year bill. Instead of a scheduled hearing this week, AB 886 will go on calendar for 2024 while fine-tuning continues. The bill is reminiscent of laws passed in Canada and Australia that require companies including Meta and Google to pay publishers for news content. Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) says legislators are leveraging the session spillover and will not lose ground as they navigate to passage.

“I’ve agreed to make AB 886 a two-year bill in order to ensure the strongest legislation possible — because getting this policy right is more important than getting it quick,” Wicks said in a statement. “My priority is making sure this bill does exactly, and only, what it intends: to support our free press and the democracy sustained by it, to make sure publications get paid what they are owed, and to hold our nation’s largest and wealthiest tech companies accountable for repurposing content that’s not theirs.”

Companies that use digital news will be required to pay news outlets a “journalism usage fee” when they sell adjacent ads. The bill also says publishers must invest at least 70 percent of those funds in preserving California journalism jobs.

“The bill has received strong support from news advocacy groups including the California News Publishers Association and the News/Media Alliance,” writes Los Angeles Times, which has membership in both “and supports the proposed legislation.”

However, LAT notes, “it’s been vehemently opposed by various tech industry trade groups and Facebook parent company Meta, which has gone as far as to threaten to remove all news content from Facebook and Instagram if the bill passes.” Meta and Google both made the same threat in Canada as a result of legislation there.

“California is offering valuable lessons to lawmakers trying to save local journalism,” is how it played in The Seattle Times, which last month quoted Wicks saying, “everyone recognizes the massive concerns around the fact that we have, in California, lost 100 publishers across the state in the last 10 years. It’s no coincidence that coincides with the proliferation of Google and Facebook and other Big Tech platforms who control what you see, when you see it, how you see, whose entire business model is predicated on keeping your eyeballs on their screens.”

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