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01 October 2020

Press Gazette Poll: Three Quarters Want Government Action Forcing Tech Giants To Pay For News

Almost three-quarters of Press Gazette readers want national governments to force Google and Facebook to pay publishers for the use of their content, according to a poll which nearly 800 readers responded to.

Responding to the question “Should Google and Facebook be forced to pay publishers for content?” between 17-29 September, 71 per cent agreed that governments should intervene to help the industry.

“Australia’s attempt to get Google and Facebook to pay for news content is being watched worldwide, including by the News Media Association which is urging the UK Government to follow its lead,” Press Gazette reported.

The NMA welcomed the Competition and Markets Authority’s report on the digital advertising marketplace which found that of around £14 billion spent on digital ads in the UK in 2019, 80 per cent was earned by Google and Facebook.

By contrast national and local news titles, which produce the content which the platforms feed off without paying for any of it, took four per cent; around £570 million.

The NMA is calling on the UK Government to follow Australia’s lead in tackling the tech giants to ensure that the UK does not get left behind.

Swift support measures for news media should be introduced and the proposals to tackle the dominance of the tech giants outlined by the CMA in its report should enacted.

The new regime would be comprised of an enforceable code of conduct to mitigate the effects of the market power of the tech giants by governing their behaviour, and a range of “pro-competitive interventions” to tackle the sources of market power and promote competition.

In a comment piece in the paper today, The Times technology business editor Simon Duke said that the tech giants should be broken up if they cannot be tamed by new laws. 

Mr Duke said that policy makers across the world agreed that “the Silicon Valley profit machine” needed to be reined in as a matter of urgency but that no-one was sure which problem to prioritise.

A forthcoming lawsuit in the US could offer some clarity, as the Department of Justice is reportedly days away from publishing its long-awaited case against Google which is expected to focus on how the DoJ considers Google has used its dominant position in online search to harm consumers.

He added: “America takes pride in its innovative brand of capitalism, and many lawmakers consider the digital monopolies to be antithetical to these values. In the past trust-busters have not hesitated to intervene to smash apart railroad and phone monopolies.

“Breaking up Google and others may not solve all of the ills of era of big tech. But it may end up being the least worst option to liberate the digital economy from the grip of the monopolists."