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Joining global trend, India likely to bring law for Big Tech to pay news publishers for content

Getting tech giants to share revenue for news content is an 'important issue' & 'needs to be tackled legislatively', Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said Saturday.

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New Delhi: In line with a global trend seen in countries including Australia, Canada, France, and Spain, India is likely to soon introduce legislation that will make Big Tech giants such as Google, Meta and Apple share the revenue they get for original content released by homegrown newspapers and digital news platforms with the respective publishers.

On Saturday, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar told the media that this move was an “important issue” for the government and that it would ensure that news organisations wouldn’t be in a “position of disadvantage” in the future.

“The news publishers have no negotiating leverage at all, and this needs to be tackled legislatively. This is an important issue for us,” he asserted.

In January, the Competition Commission of India ordered a probe against Google on a complaint filed by the Digital News Publishers Association for alleged abuse of its dominant position as a news aggregator.


Also Read: News, but no paper: India has a huge newsprint problem, but it’s been brewing for a while


Indian publishers want share of pie

In February last year, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) —  the apex body of publishers of newspapers, magazines, and periodicals in the country — wrote to Google highlighting how the tech giant was reaping profits on original content released by other organisations.

Apart from increasing the publishers’ share of advertising revenue to 85 per cent, the INS had asked Google to ensure more transparency in the revenue reports. Publishers were facing a “very opaque advertising system”, as they were unable to get details of Google’s advertising value chain, wrote INS president L. Adimoolam.

“Since the content which is generated and published by newspapers at the considerable expense is proprietary, the Society pointed out that it is this credible content which has given Google the authenticity in India ever since its inception (sic). Further, it was also pointed out that advertising has been the financial backbone of the news industry. However, newspaper publishers are seeing their share of the advertising pie shrinking in the digital space, even as Google is taking a ‘giant share of advertising spends’, leaving publishers with a small share,” the statement read.

The INS also mentioned that Google had agreed to better compensate and pay publishers in France, Australia, and elsewhere.


Also Read: ‘Baseless rumours’ — Bharti Airtel denies govt charge it sold viewership data to news channels


The Big Tech pushback

Several countries have pushed for a law to coerce Google to pay for original content. However, there has also been pushback from Google, which allegedly retaliated by blocking news content in Australia.

However, the tech giant was pushed into accepting the proposed laws in countries including Canada and Australia, where journalists had been complaining for years that they were losing out on revenue.

In Canada, the bone of contention was also with social media intermediaries like Meta. News outlets argued that these organisations were gaining a larger chunk of the advertising pie, which has the potential to help struggling newsrooms financially if redistributed. Now, these tech giants, if they intend to function in the said nations, have to share portions of revenue obtained via original content produced by other news organisations.

In India, news aggregators and publishers are yet to iron out all their differences. This law, some experts say, might widen the gap and may lead to pushback from these tech giants.

(Edited by Tony Rai)


Also Read: Why govt has blocked 16 YouTube ‘news’ channels from India & Pakistan in 2nd crackdown in a month


 

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