Facebook and Google Might Have to Pay Publishers for News

Regulators in Australia are readying their recommendations

Google in Dublin
A Google building in Dublin, Ireland.
Outreach Pete/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / July 14, 2020 6:00 am

What would a world where Facebook and Google actually paid news sites for the information they provide look like? We might be closer to that day than we think. The impact that both companies have had on the advertising revenue of local news organizations has been documented in the past, as have the larger consequences of their presence. But a new report by Angus Whitley at Bloomberg suggests that a change may be coming.

As Whitley notes, the potential upheaval is coming from Australia, where the government is readying regulations that would prompt both companies to distribute some of their revenue back to publishers:

Australia’s competition regulator will this month publish draft rules forcing the two U.S. tech giants to share revenue generated from news with the original publishers, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. A final version of the code, the first of its kind in the world, is due to follow soon after.

This isn’t the first time the two tech companies have experimented with publisher payments. Recode reported last year that Facebook was exploring paying some news companies, and Google has explored a similar program in countries including Germany and Brazil. As for the question of how much revenue will be shared, that remains an ongoing concern, with both companies attempting to quantify how much revenue comes from news.

For publishers who have seen the presence Google and Facebook reduce their income, there are hopes that Australia’s move will lead other countries to take similar action, creating a more equitable atmosphere for all.

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