Almost three-quarters of Press Gazette readers want national governments to force Google and Facebook to pay publishers for the use of their content, according to our latest poll.
Some 794 responded to the question “Should Google and Facebook be forced to pay publishers for content?” between 17-29 September.
A resounding 71% said agreed that governments should intervene to help the industry. Some 29% wanted them to stay out of it.
Australia’s attempt to get Google and Facebook to pay for news content is being watched worldwide, including by the News Media Association which is urging the UK Government to follow its lead.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission published a first-of-its-kind draft code of conduct in July that would force the tech giants to negotiate with publishers over fair payment, with an arbitrator stepping in where necessary to ensure an agreement is made.
Mandatory standards would also be introduced, meaning platforms would have to give news media more information about algorithm changes and power over their pages by, for example, turning off comments on individual Facebook posts.
Neither of the tech giants has so far taken well to the plans: Facebook threatened to remove all news content from its platforms in Australia while Google showed users a pop-up warning them the proposed laws would “dramatically worsen” the free Google Search and Youtube services.
ACCC hit back by saying Google’s open letter contained “misinformation” about how the code would work.
Although Australia’s approach has a lot of global support from publishers, there is some dissent: Bloomberg’s editorial board called it “counterproductive” and “more akin to racketeering”.
“By inducing platforms to do away with news snippets and previews altogether, it will in all likelihood reduce publishers’ traffic, depress ad revenue, erode competition, impede innovation and needlessly deprive consumers of a valuable service,” it said.
Meanwhile in the US anti-trust investigations have been launched against both Google and Facebook (plus Amazon and Apple) because of their market dominance.
Little has changed since Press Gazette launched its Duopoly campaign urging Facebook and Google to make a fairer deal with the news industry in April 2017.
In July, the Competition and Markets Authority called on the Government to create new powers to regulate the digital advertising market, noting that of around £14bn spent on digital ads in the UK in 2019, 80% was earned by Google and Facebook.
The CMA agreed with publishers’ concerns that they have “very little choice” but to accept the terms given by Facebook and Google given their dominance.
Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo