Last year, Facebook's parent company Meta told publishers it would no longer pay for the content it has been aggregating in the news tab.
Meta spent about $105 million in three-year content deals for news (plus another $90 million for news videos) -- including $10 million for The Wall Street Journal, $20 million for The New York Times, and $3 million for CNN, according to reports. Sometimes this includes unlocked access to paywalled content.
Now California wants to make it a law that social-media platforms should pay up -- regularly. To a great extent this would benefit regional and local newspapers, which have been hard-pressed to realize revenue growth over the last few years.Meta is resisting. For its part, Facebook has been allowing news content on their site for years, giving marketing and promotion benefits to those news organizations.
Some small levels of money have been exchanged for some of that placement. But not anymore.
But should it do more than that? The California bill is not intended to just line the pockets of local media news owners. It requires that publishers invest 70% of usage fee profits into journalism jobs.
What about local TV news California TV stations? It seems like that would be included.
Considering there have been some cutbacks among TV stations' news operations of late --- perhaps due to overspending on news content -- this might help the situation.
Meta brings to this the knowledge that 60% of modern media consumers get some -- if not all -- of their news content via social-media platforms. News content can be a major content expense they have not had to worry about.
Meta, like other social media platforms, does not have a real news operation -- and may never have one. But it does bring up the value for its social-media users who count on Meta for their social-media content interaction, which includes news content.
Looking at the broader media universe-- including digital media players -- we all know content spend can be incredibly expensive -- scripted video, as well as non-scripted news content.
TV, digital, and print-based news organizations should be able to determine their own value and then go out and sell their wares in a free business environment. But a low-ish $200 million over three years from the likes of one dominant social media platform doesn’t seem like that can solve anything.
So, what now? Expected social media regulation and laws? One idea: Maybe we should stop calling news stories ‘content’.