Big tech should pay news publishers for content: Indian govt’s strong pushback

The Indian government has expressed its support to the news publishing companies and called on the big tech content aggregators to share revenues with them.

Speaking at the inaugural session of a day-long conclave organised by the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA), Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra and Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar both emphasised the “future of journalism” and financial health of the news industry.

Raising the issue of the ‘strained financial health’ of the Indian news publishing industry, Chandra said, “For the growth of the news industry, it is important that digital news platforms of all these publishers, who are the creators of original content, get a fair share of revenues from the big tech platforms which act as aggregators of content created by others,” he said.

Chandra took the examples of the initiatives taken by EU, Australia and Canada, who have passed legislation and strengthened their competition commissions to ensure a fair split of revenue between news content creators and aggregators.

Echoing similar sentiments, Chandrasekhar said, “We hope to address this issue of disproportionate control and imbalance of dynamics between content creation and its monetisation and the power that ad-tech companies and platforms hold today.”

Australia’s Member of Parliament Paul Fletcher, who was the minister of communications when Australia passed the landmark News Media Bargaining Code, shared his country’s experience as to how they resisted Google and Facebook when they shared the draft of the code with them.

“There was a bit of turbulence along the way. Google, at one point, threatened to withdraw Google Search services in Australia. In response to that, the PM (then Prime Minister Scott Morrison) and I met with the global experts of Microsoft, who said they will be interested in expanding Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) in Australia. We didn’t hear much more of the threat (from Google),” he said.

“In the face of that, we held firm and there was a strong political leadership from Josh Frydenberg (former Treasurer of Australia) and the legislation passed Parliament. I am pleased to say that both Google and Facebook have since negotiated commercial deals with news media businesses,” he added.

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