Will tech firms soon have to start paying publishers for news?

There has long been discussion on technology platforms, and their relationship to news and the revenue streams which are provided on this. There also surfaces questions of competition and monopoly within this subject. It does however look like those things may soon be about to change. Our latest article will explore this in more detail.

To begin, and to highlight the scale of what we are talking about, we are first going to present you with a shocking figure. Recent research and a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, has found that news revenue is worth £1 billion each year to Google and Meta combined. There has long been criticism on the need to pay publishers for their content and pay something which is appropriate and fair. The figure obtained by this latest research now puts the situation into sharp context and how repeated calls to address this must now be heard.

There is no doubt that news is so vital and important to keep people updated about events that are happening not only local to them, but around the world. We only have to think about the war in Ukraine to know how vital news reports and stories are. In addition to this, news is important to social and technology platforms too. It keeps users engaged, gives people something to talk about and provides fresh content for them to be able to attract audiences. The problem is that Google and Facebook earn more than around £16 billion each year in the UK, but out of that, they share very little with news publishers. This seems so bizarre given that it is often news publishers and organisations that provide the stories which draw people to these social media platforms in the first place.

It may seem like wishful thinking to ask for things to change. Whether you agree with this imbalance of power or not, it exists, it happens, and one seems to need the other just as much, even if it is not a healthy co-existence. That might be about to change however, following a recent announcement in the Queen’s Speech. The government plan to introduce a Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill, which will look to tackle this very problem. Under plans, a Digital Markets Unit will be able to make the industry more competitive by ensuring that publishers are fairly rewarded for their news and work. If this were enacted and achieved, it would mirror a change which has already happened in Australia where a similar problem was addressed.

As you might expect, the technology giants argue against this, and put forward points such as the massive amount of click coverage they have sent to publishers worth billions of pounds each year, which is evidence of fairness and respect on their side. The problem is that one person’s interpretation of fairness and appropriate is very different to someone else’s!

Not all legislation in Queen’s Speeches gets enacted, that is just the way it works. If this does however, it is something that could represent a significant change in the industry and is well worth keeping an eye on to see any future developments.

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