“New Delhi: Australia compelled big tech giants such as Facebook, Google among others to pay traditional media companies for content. It unveiled a legal framework with an aim to support Australian public interest journalism, supported by all media companies. This was followed by a multi-year deal between Google and News Corp that will lead to the tech giant paying for journalism from news sites around the world.
Experts say the Australian government’s move is a step in the right direction and New Delhi should come out with similar legislations so that it will create a stream of revenue for domestic media publishers who invest a huge amount of money in gathering, fact-checking, editing and producing the news content.
Worth mentioning here is the fact that the government often takes cues from the news and views published by media firms for making policy decisions. But media firms hardly get the desired revenue as big tech firms such as Google and Facebook who use the content (produced by news publishers) to attract advertisers based on their dominance over the online space.
Advertising revenue has shifted from traditional media companies towards tech behemoths, leaving the original content producers struggling for survival. Under the present practice, expenditure is incurred by media companies for producing news content, but the profits are largely taken away by the big tech firms, leaving the original content producers struggling for survival.
From a business point of view, the present model is economically unsustainable and many news publishers have suffered due to the predatory practices followed by the big tech firms. On the other hand, Indian readers are not yet ready to pay for quality journalism. In such a situation, it has become difficult for mainstream media companies to create quality content.
Eminent columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in a piece in ToI on Sunday wrote, “Some newspapers have now opted for a subscription model … some news is free but premium items require payment. However, any demand for payment reduces circulation, and hence advertising revenue. If newspapers are assured a share of the advertising revenue of internet companies, they can afford to go for the subscription model in a much bigger way.”
Experts say the present model is ethically flawed as tech giants who act as distributors of content, make a profit by hosting the content produced by publishers. Good journalism is essential in a democracy as accurate information and civilised debate are essential to hold power accountable. When publishers who produce accurate news content don’t get paid for their work there is a proliferation of fake news, which is evident now. So it is high time that the Indian government takes a principled stand on the issue like that of Australia.”