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Facebook, Google fight bill that would help U.S. news industry

Also opposing the bill are two technology industry trade groups that Facebook and Google belong to — the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice.

“Objective news coverage is a public good, but we don’t think the way to fund that public good is by constructing a cartel,” said CCIA President Matt Schruers.

The group opposed a 2019 version of the legislation and views the proposed joint bargaining as a way of restricting competition.

Carl Szabo of NetChoice said his goal was to kill the bill or at least convince lawmakers to amend it so that it would be restricted to smaller publications, excluding outlets such as the Washington Post or New York Times.

“I don’t think they should be doing this legislation, period,” he said. “This legislation allows the Washington Post and New York Times and other big papers to call the shots for the smaller outlets.”

Some industry observers say the proposal could disproportionately benefit private equity firms and hedge funds that have snatched up medium and large newspaper chains. Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and the Miami Herald are controlled by the likes of Alden Global Capital and Chatham Asset Management.

The bills come not long after Facebook battled with Australia over how much it should pay news publishers for their content. During the fight, Facebook blacked out Australian news pages and only restored them once the government granted concessions.