Bernie Sanders Calls for Moratorium on Major Media Mergers Like ViacomCBS

Presidential hopeful also calls out “monopolistic” Facebook and Google in a Columbia Journalism Review op-ed

Last Updated: August 27, 2019 @ 3:24 PM

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders outlined his plans Monday to limit the consolidation of major media corporations and protect journalists’ jobs.

“One reason we do not have enough real journalism in America right now is because many outlets are being gutted by the same forces of greed that are pillaging our economy,” the Vermont senator wrote in an op-ed for the Columbia Journalism Review.

Here are the changes Sanders plans to implement if he takes office:

Instituting immediate moratoriums on approving mergers of major media corporations

The senator specifically called out the proposed Viacom-CBS merger, saying mega mergers like this would not be rubber-stamped. Under his administration, media companies would have to disclose whether these mergers would result in significant journalism layoffs and also require companies to allow employees to purchase ownership via employee stock ownership plans.

Reinstate and strengthen media ownership rules

Sanders would limit the number of stations that large broadcasting corporations can own in each market and nationwide, allowing citizens more and diverse sources for news and information. The administration would study the impact of consolidation and take further anti-trust action if necessary.

Implement his Workplace Democracy Plan

Under this plan, media workers would be able to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. A side benefit of unionization is that journalists would be protected from corporate policies preventing them from scrutinizing media owners and advertisers.

Taking on tech

Sanders also called out Facebook and Google, labeling the two tech giants 60% control of the digital advertising market as “monopolistic.” Sanders said he would appoint the Attorney General as well as Federal Trade Commission officers to enforce antitrust laws against Facebook and Google, thus preventing them from “using their enormous market power to cannibalize, bilk, and defund news organizations.”

He also proposed taxing targeted ads and using revenue generated to fund “non-profit,” civic-minded media.”

These proposals fall in line with Sanders’ policy in breaking up big business, from the pharmaceutical to healthcare industries.