Rep. Ken Buck Admits JCPA Flawed, Scrambles to Add Amendment to Save Big Media Bailout Bill

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) questions witnesses at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on police brutality and racial profiling on June 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) is scrambling to save a bill that would allow big media companies like the New York Times and CNN to form a cartel to pressure tech companies for special treatment, after criticism of the bill from President Trump’s tech censorship experts, one of the two Republican FCC commissioners, House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Jim Jordan, and staffers to fellow members of the House Freedom Caucus.

According to the Washington Times, Buck is pushing for an amendment to the bill that would forbid tech companies from discriminating against news companies on the basis of their political orientation.

Buck’s amendment follows concerns that the bill would allow a cartel of big media companies to exclude their competition, and exclude news companies that fall outside their ideology from the benefits of deals with the tech giants.

The Washington Times noted that Buck was responding to concerns that the bill would “inadvertently empower Big Media at the expense of conservative voices.”

It is unclear if House Democrats, who first drafted and introduced the bill, will accept such an amendment, or what the precise wording of the amendment is.

Nevertheless, the proposed amendments (though not yet discussed) are unlikely to resolve the problems with the bill. Under the current wording of the bill, media companies would be allowed to form a cartel to strengthen their hand in negotiations with tech companies.

The bill also allows them to exclude media companies that are not “similarly situated” to members of the cartel from the benefits of these negotiations, opening the door for competition to be marginalized.

The bill also specifically allows the media cartel to negotiate with the tech companies on issues related to “quality, accuracy, attribution or branding, and interoperability of news,” allowing them to set universal standards for the industry without the say of their competitors.

Republican FCC commissioner Nathan Simington issued a warning earlier this week that the JCPA could be extremely damaging to local news.

“I would love more clarity on what counts as “similarly situated,” what constitutes a “digital news organization,” and “terms that would be available,” Simington told Breitbart News.

“For example, if a local newspaper has inferior economies of scale to a national one, commercial terms with bulk rates per click are worse for the local newspaper, while commercial terms with a lump sum per piece of content are worse for the national newspaper. If these terms are available to both, but negotiated by the national newspaper, they will actively harm the local one.”
In addition to opposition from communications and technology experts like Simington, the JCPA is also opposed by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn.

Rep. McCarthy called the bill the “antithesis of conservatism” in comments to Breitbart News in March. Rep. Jordan has warned it will grant the media “cartel power.” Sen. Blackburn has said it will grant “even more power to the mainstream media and Silicon Valley.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.

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