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California’s Media Bail Out Would Stifle the Free Press and Freelance Journalism

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Last night, AB 886 was reintroduced in the California legislature. If passed, this bill would further undermine freelance journalism, give monopoly power to major media corporations, eliminate the freedom of the press from government and water down antitrust laws to protect a powerful few. 

The amended AB 886 defines a “journalist” only as an employee of a news outlet—meaning that freelancers, contractors, can’t be journalists in the eyes of the State of California. AB 886 gives sweetheart deals to multi-billion dollar news organizations. The legislation carves out some companies, while forcing sites like Reddit and Pinterest to fork over millions when users post links on their sites. AB 886 creates a new government “claims administrator” who decides what outlet is considered a “news provider” and who is not. Meanwhile, nothing in this bill means that individual journalists will see a single increase in pay as the money their news corporation would receive is ultimately fungible. 

With AB 886, the free press in California hangs in the balance. If enacted, journalists will unquestionably face new financial pressures from government officials and politicians to report favorably on them or lose funding, further undermining the public’s trust in news media.”said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President & General Counsel. “California’s government through AB 886 would make the press dependent on government handouts, terminating the independence and credibility of news organizations based in the Golden State.” 

Szabo continued: “If AB 886 is passed, free access to news online and on social media will significantly decrease, cronyism will increase, and a cornerstone of American tradition—the independent news media—will lose even more credibility. California lawmakers should reject this effort.”

Please contact Krista Chavez at with inquiries.