Meta to renounce news in Illinois if compelled to pay publishers

Meta has threatened to remove news from its platforms in Illinois if the bill becomes law, citing that news is not the main reason people visit their platforms.

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A new bill, the Journalism Preservation Act (SB 3591), is making waves in Illinois as it awaits the state’s Senate approval. If passed, this bill would mandate online companies to compensate local news publishers for content Illinois residents view on their platforms. The legislation mirrors similar laws enacted in Canada, Australia, and California, prompting tech giant Meta to pull news content from its platforms in Illinois should the bill become law.

Under the proposed bill, tech companies like Meta and Google must track and record how their platforms showcase content from Illinois-based online publishers. Subsequently, these companies would have ten days from the end of each month to pay a ‘journalism usage fee’ to these publishers, equivalent to 1% of their advertising revenue.

On the other side, the bill emphasises the importance of local journalism in sustaining civic society, noting its ability to provide information at a depth unmatched by national outlets. Namely, it highlights concerning trends such as a 66% decrease in newspaper advertising over the past decade and a 44% decline in newsroom staff. Accordingly, the bill asserts the necessity for just compensation for local publishers’ creation and distribution of content.

While Meta and Google previously took similar stances against legislation in Canada and Australia, their responses differed, with Google eventually relenting in both cases.

The proposed legislation resembles California’s Journalism Preservation Act, which faced postponement after Meta threatened to block news in the state.

Illinois Senator Steve Stadelman, the bill’s sponsor, voiced his concerns about the future of local journalism, emphasising its essential role in providing Illinois residents with access to reliable information.