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Dominance of Digital Giants: How Tech News Landscape is Forever Altered

Dominance of Digital Giants: How Tech News Landscape is Forever Altered

The bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and news producers has resulted in the need for laws that ensure fair remuneration and protect the quality of news.

In today’s digital age, where more and more people rely on social media platforms for news and information, a significant issue has emerged: the bargaining power between news outlets and digital giants for fair compensation. This power imbalance has led to the implementation of laws in countries like Australia and Canada to rectify the situation and ensure that news producers receive fair remuneration.

Australia, in particular, has taken a pioneering role in addressing this issue. The country introduced the News Media Bargaining Code in 2021, which allows news producers to negotiate with tech giants for fair payment. Under this law, news producers registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have the right to seek arbitration and negotiate for fair payments for their news content appearing on digital platforms.

However, the introduction of these laws has not been without resistance from social media giants. Facebook notably blocked Australian news outlets, preventing Australians from accessing news on the platform for approximately three months. Google initially planned to remove its search tool but later launched the News Showcase, a platform that allows news producers and organizations to partner in presenting news. Google compensates participating businesses through “news content publication fees” instead of compensation from viewing links in the search tool.

Despite these initial challenges, Australia’s experience has shown that deals can be struck between news producers and tech giants. Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) have negotiated agreements with both large and small news producers, resulting in over A$200 million being paid to news producers and the creation of more than 100 jobs since the legislation came into force.

Other countries are also considering similar regulations to address the bargaining power imbalance. Canada, for example, passed the Online News Act, enabling news producers to negotiate with digital giants for fair payment. These laws aim to ensure that news producers receive appropriate compensation for their content, as they rely on digital platforms to increase their visibility.

The main reason behind these laws is the imbalanced bargaining power between digital platforms and news producers. Consumers increasingly turn to platforms like Google and Facebook for news and information, while traditional media such as television or print experience decreased viewership. This reliance on platforms has led to news producers not receiving adequate compensation, while platforms enjoy increased advertising revenue. This raises concerns about the decline in the quality of news.

Furthermore, the technical capabilities of tech giants, particularly their advanced recommendation system algorithms, give them the power to control and prioritize the content displayed on their platforms. This creates a significant advantage for the platforms and further exacerbates the bargaining power imbalance with news producers.

Recognizing the need for a more equitable playing field, governments are considering the implementation of legal mechanisms to address this power imbalance and ensure fair remuneration for news producers. While there are still concerns about transparency and eligibility for smaller news producers, the experience in Australia shows that deals can be reached, and other countries are taking note of these regulations.

In conclusion, the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and news producers has necessitated the implementation of laws to ensure fair remuneration and protect the quality of news. Australia and Canada have taken the lead in enacting such laws, and while there have been challenges, progress has been made in negotiating fair compensation. This issue highlights the importance of addressing the power dynamics between tech giants and news producers to maintain a thriving and reliable news landscape in the digital age.

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Akash Osta