Google and Facebook ferry more than 80% of external traffic to various news sites, according to Parse.ly, a web analytics and content optimisation software for online publishers, but most of the income goes to the internet platforms, not to content generators. This means media outlets are not the principal beneficiaries of revenue from news consumption digitally.
For example, according to one study, around 40% of the clicks on Google’s trending queries are for news. That’s the content Google does not pay for.
WHICH NATIONS ARE TAKING THE LEAD IN ROLLING OUT NEW NORMS
France and Australia
WHAT FRANCE HAS DONE
Earlier this month, Google announcedithad signed copyright agreements with six French newspapers and magazines, including Le Monde and Le Figaro.
France also announced it would impose a ‘digital tax’ on Google, Facebook and Apple on their 2020 earnings.
The tax applies to companies with global revenues of over €750 million.
The copyright agreement followed France’s competition watchdog issuing an interim order asking Google to negotiate with media firms after the internet company blocked their content following an earlier order.
The French watchdog is meanwhile continuing its investigation.
There will most likely be similar moves elsewhere in the EU. Earlier, Google had responded to orders to pay up by shutting down its Google news site in a country(Spain).
WHAT AUSTRALIA HAS DONE
Australia’s competition watchdog had released in July a draft news media bargaining code, which asks Google and Facebook to pay for news content in the country.
The code also said internet giants will have to pay millions of dollars in fines should they not comply with the rule.
Recently, broadcasters have been added to the list of news publishers.
WHAT ABOUT THE US?
The home of Google, Facebook is engaged with the issue, too, with a proposed law allowing news publishers to collectively bargain with tech platforms for getting payment for news content.
Several antitrust moves currently winding their way through US legislators may also have an impact on this.
Sadly, so far regulators in the world’s largest democracy have not moved on the issue of making internet companies pay for profiting from local news content.
HOW HAVE GOOGLE, FACEBOOK REACTED
Earlier, their argument was that they pass on enough users to news sites to compensate publishers..
In face of criticism, there is now some moderation of stance, but responses are still patchy.
In February, there were reports of Google paying some publishers in some countries (not India).
In April, Google said it is cutting fees for its ad manager service (used by publishers)for the next five months.
In October, Google said it would pay some select, ‘high-quality’ news publishers to license their content for a service expected to be launched later this year.
German, Australian and Brazilian outlets were named. Google says more talks are on elsewhere.
Facebook had announced last year that it will pay a few US publishers to “encourage better quality content”.
SO, WHAT’S THE UPSHOT
There’s a long wayto go before news publishers get a fair deal from internet platforms. Solutions must be clear and regulator mandated, not bits and pieces announcements by Google and Facebook. And Indian authorities, who have gone forward with digital tax, must step forward on this issue as well.