UK Newspapers Ask Gov For Help Against Google, Facebook

Newspapers are getting cheated of the value of their own work by Google and Facebook, according to the official organization of British newspaper publisher. It argues that the tech companies pose an existential threat to quality journalism and is asking the British government for help.


In a briefing delivered to government ministers on Thursday, the UK’s News Media Association conceded that the rise of Google, Facebook and other online platforms has presented traditional news media with opportunities, as well as threats. On the plus side, by aggregating and disseminating news content to their users, they potentially give publishers access to vast new audiences.

But in the process, they also divert traffic from publishers’ sites, instead monetizing the news content through advertising on their own platforms.

While acknowledging that opportunity exists alongside the peril, the NMA still stated: “The situation is far from win-win, and significant value is being captured by companies that do not invest in original journalism at the expense of those who do.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to meet these costs, partly because of the lower value of digital advertising compared to print, but also because of the diversion of advertising spend from publishers toward aggregators.”

In response, newspaper publishers are asking the British government to “ensure that online platforms operate within a framework that is fair, non-abusive and respectful of media plurality.”

Although the NMA was vague on what actions the government could take to level the playing field, these presumably include regulations forcing Google and Facebook to pay publishers for aggregated content, perhaps by sharing ad revenues derived from it.  

On a related subject, the NMA is also asking the government for help against ad-blockers, noting that the latter are “part of the scramble to generate ad revenues from content to which they have made no contribution.”

The move comes not long after the EU announced new copyright rules that would require big online platforms to pay publishers for the right to display headlines in search results and news feeds. However, similar efforts have failed in the past, most notably in Germany and Spain.

For its part, Google noted that it sends billions of clicks to news publishers every month, in addition to new services like AMP, which helps publishers with faster loading times.

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