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October 20, 2017updated 23 Oct 2017 11:58am

Digital Summit: News UK chief says press must fix ‘broken relationship’ with online platforms or face end of independent news

By Dominic Ponsford

News UK’s chief operating officer has warned that not fixing the “broken relationship” between the news industry and social media platforms will result in edited, verified and independent reporting “ceasing to exist”.

Opening Press Gazette’s Digital Media Summit today, held at News UK’s headquarters in London Bridge, Dinsmore said: “News gatherers are spending nearly all the money digging up the news.

“News is the vital component that makes people really engage with social media. The social media platforms are extracting nearly all the revenue from that news on their plaforms.”

He added: “This is not a complaint. This is a statement of reality.”

Dinsmore said the “terrifying prospect of not sorting this broken relationship is a world where edited, verified news simply ceases to exist unless it is funded by the state.

“In other words, we will be left with the BBC and a network of bloggers so small they will be able to live unregulated and largely outside of the rule of law.”

He also warned that the likes of Google and Facebook would also be affected as the “verified news fuel for the platforms would also disappear”.

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Dinsmore claimed newsbrands accounted for two-thirds of the total spend on news provision in the UK and that their reach had “never been greater” thanks “in no small part” to the social media platforms.

But, he said: “Here’s the rub: great stories, massive popularity, huge reach, but revenues – and advertising revenues in particular – declining faster than the Prime Minister’s approval rating.”

The Duopoly (Google and Facebook) are already taking the lion’s share of digital advertising revenue in the UK, while print advertising revenues continue to decline.

By 2020, Google and Facebook are expected to take 71 per cent of all the money spent in the UK on digital advertising, according to a report by analysts OC&C.

Dinsmore added: “We have arrived at a moment in time and it is not an exaggeration to say that where we go from here will shape our democracy and society.

“We will either forge genuine, mutually beneficial partnerships between news gatherers and platforms or we will watch as the news becomes ever more fake and public faith in democracy collapses.”

Earlier this year Press Gazette launched its Dupoly campaign calling on Facebook and Google to pay more back to news publishers.

Picture: Press Gazette/James Young

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