Press Release

Open Markets: “Monopoly is breaking America’s free press; it’s time to break monopoly”

WASHINGTON, DC — Open Markets Institute calls on Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to immediately investigate how to protect America’s independent news media from the power and predatory business models of Google and Facebook. The two corporations routinely exploit their position as essential information platforms to divert vital advertising revenue away from the free press into their own pockets.

BuzzFeed, Gannett, and Verizon Media (which owns HuffPost, AOL, and Yahoo) yesterday became the most recent publishers to announce plans to lay off reporters and staff in the face of declining advertising revenue. Just last week, a private equity firm known for hollowing out media outlets, announced plans to buy Gannett.

This means fewer independent journalists to report on issues that matter to American citizens. This means more control over the stories we read and see in the hands of Google and Facebook.

“We cannot understate the threat monopoly poses to the free press,” Open Markets Institute Executive Director Barry Lynn said. “Google and Facebook are breaking the news. It’s time our policymakers and regulators do their jobs and break up these monopolies, before they destroy our democracy.”

Facebook’s new plan to give $300 million to local news media is proof that these corporations understand their role in creating this crisis. But such cheap charity is the last thing America’s reporters and editors need. They also don’t need Facebook or Google picking and choosing which news teams to favor and which to go out of business. What America’s journalists and citizens need is a regulatory environment that empowers publishers to deal directly with readers and advertisers, and to experiment with new subscription models without moment-to-moment meddling and manipulation by Google and Facebook.

As Congress already knows, the Facebook and Google monopolies pose many other immediate and fundamental threats to our democracy, especially the role they play in broadcasting the lies and misinformation that disrupted the 2016 elections and that continue to tear at American society.

Last June 12, the Open Markets Institute hosted an all-day conference on monopoly and the free press, which featured speeches by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congressman David Cicilline, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, NewsCorp CEO Robert Thomson, and the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim. You can also learn more about our take on these issues from these recent articles in the Guardian and the Daily Beast.