FTC needs more power to take on Big Tech’s dominance

The Federal Trade Commission needs more weapons in its battle to defend news organizations against Big Tech.

That’s the message from US Sen. Maria Cantell (D-Wash.), who said new powers are the only thing that will help the FTC protect the struggling local news industry from being crushed by Silicon Valley juggernauts.

Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote in a Tuesday report that “local news has been hijacked by a few large news aggregation platforms,” and that they are all but hopeless of competing against companies like Google and Facebook that are also “the dominant players in online advertising.”

The tech giants, Cantwell’s report adds, use their market dominance to “force local news to accept little to nothing for their intellectual property.”

Google does this by collecting headlines and story snippets from all over the web to feed its news platform and search results, while Facebook “receives billions in profits from the news content created by others,” the report said.

“The need for new authorities for the FTC to address these practices is evident,” Cantwell wrote. “The information and oversight that local news provides has been the foundation of our past and the guideway to our future, and new authority at the FTC to protect local news is a necessity.”

Cantwell’s report comes a day before the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google are set to appear before a Senate Commerce Committee hearing to answer questions on their impact on local journalism.

Local news outlets, in addition to seeing a decline in print revenue, have had advertising revenue plummet during the pandemic. The report said US newspapers would most likely cut at least 7,000 employees in 2020, leaving only about 30,000 newsroom jobs.

With Post wires