Publishers bond against tech giants
According to a global report, approximately two-thirds of news publishers are of the view that their relationship with big tech platforms like Facebook and Google have become more fraught in recent years.
The International News Media Association found in a survey that 72 percent of publishers describe their general attitudes towards digital platforms as “much more negative” or “slightly more negative” than they were three years ago.
Additionally, there are now more than a 100 official legal cases and inquiries by law makers against Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.
“There is a broad agreement among major authorities in different countries that these companies have grown too powerful and should be regulated,” says Robert Whitehead, author of the 94-page report, How to Decode the Publisher-Platform Relationship. “A global exercise has begun to co-ordinate investigations and share their research into the issues surrounding the platforms.”
The International News Media Association initiative was overseen by Damian Eales of News Corp Australia, Espen Egil Hansen of Aftenposten/Schibsted, Maribel Perez Wadsworth of the USA Today Network/Gannett and John Boynton, Torstar president and CEO, and publisher of the Toronto Star.
“We are an industry of local companies that can’t act globally. But there is no geographical nuance in the issues we face,” says Boynton. “The issues we face in Canada are the issues that publishers face everywhere.”
2019 has been a watershed year for the number of investigations into big tech.
“News and journalism are different to many other commercial activities in that they benefit both the individual and also society as a whole,” Australian Competition and Consumer Competition chair Rod Sims said in a report this year. “It is vital that media businesses are not disadvantaged through the exercise of market power or other mechanisms that make it difficult for them to compete on their merits.”
The U.S. News Media Alliance estimated that Google alone made $4.7 billion in 2018 from publishers through its search engine, although the company denies this figure.
INMA, which is not a lobby group, is trying to connect the dots not only for its 11,000 members at 700 news media companies in 70 countries, but also for the consumers of news.
“I think finally people are starting to take notice and regulators are now seeing how important the issues are when it comes to the platforms,” says Boynton. “The public should rightfully be shocked at what’s going on.”