Microsoft takes aim at Google as it supports bill to give news publishers more leverage over Big Tech.

MPs debated a no-confidence bill on Friday that would give news publishers collective bargaining power with online platforms such as Facebook and Google, putting the spotlight on a proposal aimed at taking away Big Tech’s power.

At a hearing organized by the House Antitrust Subcommittee, Microsoft President Brad Smith emerged as a prominent industry voice in favor of the legislation. They took a different route from their technical counterparts, pointing to the imbalance in power between publishers and tech platforms. The newspaper’s advertising revenue declined from $ 14.3 billion to $ 49.4 billion in 2018, he said, while advertising revenue at Google increased from $ 116 billion to $ 6.1 billion in the same period.

“Even though news helps fuel search engines, news organizations are often unaffiliated or, at best, infrequent for its use,” Smith said. “The problems that surround journalism today are due to a lack of competition in the search and advertising technology markets controlled by Google.”

The hearing was the second in a series planned by the House Antitrust Subcommittee, which meant setting the stage for the creation of stronger antitrust laws. In October, the Subcommittee, led by Representative David Cicillin, a Rhode Island Democrat, 16 month investigation results released In the power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The report accused the companies of monopolistic behavior.

This week, two of the committee’s top leaders, Mr. Cicillin and Representative Ken Buck, Republicans of Colorado, introduced the Journalism and Competition Protection Act. The bill aims to provide small news publishers with the ability to bargain with online platforms for high fees to distribute their content. The bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota and the chairman of that chamber’s Antitrust Subcommittee.

The proposal comes amid growing global concern over the decline of local news organizations, who have become dependent on online platforms for the delivery of their content. Australia recently proposed a law to allow news publishers to bargain with Google and Facebook, and lawmakers in Canada and the UK are considering similar steps.

“While I do not see this law as an alternative to online and more meaningful competition – including structural measures to address the underlying problems in the market – it is clear that we have to save trustworthy journalism before it is lost forever Something must be done in the short term. , Said Mr. Cicillin.

Google, though not a witness at the hearing, issued a statement in response to Mr. Smith’s planned testimony, defending its business practices and dismissing the intentions of Microsoft, whose Bing search engine ranks second, far behind Google’s .

“Unfortunately, as competition in these areas intensifies, they are relying on their familiar playbook to attack rivals and lobbying rules that benefit their own interests,” policy senior for Google Kent Walker, vice president, has written.

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