India is justified in asking Big Tech to give a fair share of revenues to digital platforms of print news publishers.
Published Date – 12:30 AM, Wed – 25 January 23
Hyderabad: Worldwide, there is a growing moral argument that the global technology giants must be made to pay the media companies for the reuse of the news content on their platforms and also share advertising revenues with the local publishers. The explosion of global digital platforms like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, with their all-pervading impact on our lives, has created an uneven playing field as they piggyback on the content originally created by newsrooms without compensating them. And, more importantly, unlike the media companies, the technology giants are insulated from any accountability or responsibility. Against this backdrop, the Indian government is quite justified in asking the Big Tech content aggregators to give a fair share of revenues to digital platforms of print news publishers. This position is in line with the global trend to reset an imbalance that has had a devastating impact on journalism. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France and the European union have already taken initiatives to ensure a fair division of revenue between the creators of news content and the aggregators. Technology titans such as Google and Facebook have been hugely successful in monetising the eyeballs they attract and in generating advertising revenue. The anomaly is that they use content generated and paid for by news media businesses, eating into their revenues that would otherwise be used to fund quality journalism. Course correction is imperative for the future of the news business. Australia and New Zealand have passed laws which obligate companies like Google and Facebook to strike deals compensating media outlets for news content on their platforms.
The Australian model also gives an option to the content aggregators like Google to allow a government-appointed arbitrator to decide how much they should pay to news organisations. It is time India too took a similar route to create a level playing field at a time when revenues for media organisations — both print and digital — have been dwindling rapidly. There are demands for adding a clause to the law to ensure that funds generated through such bargaining arrangements are directed towards the production of journalistic content. The enormous market power of digital advertising that is currently being exercised by Big Tech places Indian media companies in a serious disadvantageous position. This needs to be corrected by making appropriate changes in the information technology laws. It is unfair that big digital platforms like Google and Meta get to host and share local news for free. It costs to produce the news and it’s only fair that they pay. The rise of digital advertising has resulted in a new ecosystem that redirects ad revenue to tech companies. While social media platforms get clicks, engagement and even revenue from the content that is published by media organisations, news organisations, especially smaller and medium ones, suffer as more advertising goes online.