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Tech Antitrust Hearing Focuses on News Media

The first hearing in a series planned by the House Judiciary Committee examining the role big tech companies play in digital market competition offered little insight into what concrete action might come out of the probe. The main takeaway was that for House lawmakers, many options are on the table—including tweaking antitrust law and encouraging agencies to take a more active role in policing competition—but it’s early days for any specific actions.

Digital news publishers such as the News Media Alliance, which represents newspapers, and NewsCorp, which owns the Wall Street Journal and other publications, had a chance to lay out their frustrations with Google and Facebook’s dominance of the online advertising industry, which they argue has decimated the newspaper and online news business. Defending tech was the vice president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which counts Google and Facebook as clients. Lawmakers touted the importance of strong journalism and local news, lamenting the shrinking newspapers (in both size and number) of their home districts.

Despite the muted start, lawmakers promised more action to come. “This is just the beginning of the investigation,” Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat and chairman of the House subpanel on antitrust. “This will take some time.”

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