Former Ohio state treasurer and secretary of state Ken Blackwell described a bill backed by corporate media giants currently making its way through Congress as “a bait-and-switch attempt that claims to help conservative news sources but would instead purge them from the marketplace of ideas.”
Blackwell took aim at the proposed legislation, known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019 (JPCA), in an op-ed in the American Thinker.
As Breitbart News’s Allum Bokhari reported, the JPCA is deceptively titled because instead of promoting “competition,” the bill in its current form would “cement the advantage of the establishment and corporate media at the expense of its competitors” by giving “Big Media companies a special exemption from antitrust law, allowing them to form a cartel that would, under normal circumstances, be illegal to create.”
“Furthermore, there is nothing in the bill that would prevent the bigger media companies from excluding smaller companies from the cartel,” Bokhari added. “If passed, there would be nothing to stop the formation of a cartel that includes CNN, NBC, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other big companies, while excluding smaller competitors in the independent media — not to mention local newspapers. Such a cartel would secure favorable rates for the former while leaving the latter in the dust.”
Blackwell’s op-ed offers similar criticism of the bill. He explains that it would not only grant big media companies an exemption from federal antitrust laws, but it would also allow them to “operate in a coordinated fashion to negotiate prices that social media companies like Facebook would have to pay them to carry their content. It would ensure that these tech billionaires would have to direct some of their riches into content providers.”
“But that’s a Big Boys’ game, where the major players could decide whom to let into their club. Smaller outlets would be left out in the cold, and the market would suffer,” Blackwell writes.
He then notes that the only right-leaning player among the “Big Boys” in corporate media is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, and the proposed legislation would give Murdoch’s media monolith the power to choke off its conservative competitors.
The reality is this: media companies prefer cartels and monopolies, just like many other businesses.
This provides them a chance to have one without the lean and hungry conservative happy warriors. Offer a bill with the sales pitch that it will protect those citizen-journalists, then have the big dogs circle the wagons on terms that the social giants must meet for huge corporations, and then keep those citizen-journalists outside the circle.
That’s what this is — a classic bait and switch. News Corp would be fine under the JCPA and with it all of that company’s conservative voices. But there are as many moderates at Fox News and the Wall Street Journal as there are conservatives and more than a few liberals. Facebook couldn’t turn those outlets away, but that company might be the only right-of-center media company at that level. It would effectively give Fox and the Journal a monopoly on news that is not hard-left, which means that “conservative” would be whatever the Murdoch family says it means. People who get all their news from social media — and there’s an increasingly high number of those — would never hear voices like the ones they are accustomed to reading at this outlet.
Blackwell urges Congress to “reject” the bill “for the freedom-killer it is.”
Rebecca Mansour is Senior Editor-at-Large for Breitbart News. Follow her on Twitter at @RAMansour.