News group slams Google, Face­book on­line ‘du­op­oly’

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The US news­pa­per in­dus­try yes­ter­day warned of a “du­op­oly” in on­line news by Google and Face­book, and called for leg­is­la­tion that would re­lax an­titrust rules al­low­ing col­lec­tive ne­go­ti­a­tions with the In­ter­net giants. The News Me­dia Al­liance said that be­cause Google and Face­book dom­i­nate on­line news traf­fic dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing, “pub­lish­ers are forced to sur­ren­der their con­tent and play by their rules on how news and in­for­ma­tion is dis­played, pri­or­i­tized and mon­e­tized.”

A state­ment by the as­so­ci­a­tion of some 2,000 me­dia groups said news or­ga­ni­za­tions “are lim­ited with dis­ag­gre­gated ne­go­ti­at­ing power against a de facto du­op­oly that is vac­u­um­ing up all but an ever-de­creas­ing seg­ment of ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue”. The group, for­merly known as the News­pa­per As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica, in­cludes large dailies like the New York Times and Wall Street Jour­nal as well as hun­dreds of smaller me­dia groups and re­gional news or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The re­quest comes amid a pro­longed slump in tra­di­tional print news, as read­ers in­creas­ingly turn to on­line plat­forms. News Me­dia Al­liance pres­i­dent David Chav­ern, writ­ing in a Wall Street Jour­nal com­men­tary, said that the in­ter­net plat­forms “dis­tort the flow of eco­nomic value de­rived from good re­port­ing”. He said Google and Face­book ac­count for more than 70 per­cent of the $73 bil­lion spent each year on dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing, and they eat up most of the growth, with nearly 80 per­cent of all on­line re­fer­ral traf­fic com­ing from the two firms.

“But the two dig­i­tal giants don’t em­ploy re­porters. They don’t dig through public records to un­cover cor­rup­tion, send cor­re­spon­dents into war zones, or at­tend last night’s game to get the high­lights,” Chav­ern said. “They ex­pect an eco­nom­i­cally squeezed news in­dus­try to do that costly work for them.”

Face­book and Google, which share some rev­enue with news or­ga­ni­za­tions on cer­tain plat­forms, have been step­ping up ef­forts to help me­dia groups with grants and other pro­grams. Face­book’s head of news part­ner­ships, Campbell Brown, said in a state­ment to AFP: “We’re com­mit­ted to help­ing qual­ity jour­nal­ism thrive on Face­book. We’re mak­ing progress through our work with news pub­lish­ers and have more work to do.” Google said in a state­ment: “We want to help news pub­lish­ers suc­ceed as they tran­si­tion to dig­i­tal. In re­cent years we’ve built nu­mer­ous spe­cial­ized prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies, de­vel­oped specif­i­cally to help dis­trib­ute, fund, and sup­port news­pa­pers.” — AFP

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