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Big Tech needs to pay news publishers for content: Govt

GS Paper  2

Syllabus: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability

 

Source: TH

 

Direction: The article highlights the issues faced by the traditional news industry in India, suggestions to address these issues along with best practices and way ahead.

  

Context: According to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry, as creators of original content, publishers of digital news platforms should receive a fair share of the revenue from big-tech platforms that act as aggregators.

 

Background: 

  • The statement was made at the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) media conference. DNPA is the umbrella organisation for the digital platforms of 17 top news publishers.
  • Big Tech has enabled unparalleled reach, engagement, and innovation in the news media. This has created an imbalance in bargaining power between Big Tech and News media

 

Issues faced by the news industry:

  • Post-Covid the financial health of both the digital news industry and its parent – the print news industry, is under strain.
  • This led to journalists losing jobs → journalism reducing in quality → a negative feedback loop.
  • The changing dynamics of the news publishing industry (with technological changes), their businesses and their impact on the social lives of citizens have raised questions.
  • It is obvious that if the traditional news industry continues to suffer, the future of journalism/Fourth Pillar will suffer as well.

 

Suggestions:

  • A fair share of the revenue from the Big Tech platforms (aggregator of the content) to original creators.
  • Political Will: Political support across party lines is essential in markets like India to level the playing field between Big Tech and the news media
  • The upcoming Digital India Act will address this issue of disproportionate control and the imbalance in the dynamics between content creation and content creators’ monetisation requirements – and the power that adtech companies and adtech platforms have.

 

International Scenario:

  • Best practices: Australia, Canada, France and the EU, through legislation and strengthening of their competition commissions have ensured a fair split of revenue among the creators of news content and the aggregators.
  • The Australian example: It has developed the landmark News Media Bargaining Code, which will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the use of their content by digital platforms, such as Google and Facebook. The code aims to address the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and these digital platforms by requiring them to negotiate payment for the use of news content.
  • European Union: The Copyright Directive was adopted in 2019, which includes provisions that require digital platforms to negotiate fair and proportionate remuneration for the use of copyrighted content, including news.
  • France: It passed a law to enforce the European Copyright Directive— which granted ‘neighbouring rights’ to intellectual property owners, potentially allowing news publishers to negotiate agreements with Big Tech platforms for featuring their content.

 

Way ahead:

  • A policy response to curb unfair competition, which is reducing revenues, profitability and funding for quality journalism.
  • Political support is critical in markets such as India because, unlike in countries such as Australia, the media market was not concentrated, reducing each publisher’s bargaining power.

  

Conclusion: In a liberal and large democracy like India, it is important to have diverse and vigorous news media. Thus, for quality journalism, credible content and good governance and to secure the future of the 4th pillar of our democracy, issues faced by the news industry need to be addressed as soon as possible.

 

InstaCurious:

Neighbouring rights are a type of intellectual property rights that protect the rights of performers, producers of phonograms, and broadcasting organizations. These rights are designed to ensure that the creators and performers of creative works are fairly compensated for the use of their works. This concept of “ancillary copyright” or “neighbouring rights” creates a framework for news media to negotiate licensing fees with platforms that use their content.

 

Insta Links:

New India Debate – Role of Media In India

 

Mains Links:

Q. Though 100 per cent FDI is already allowed in non-news media like a trade publications and general entertainment channels, the government is mulling over the proposal for increased FDI in news media for quite some time. What difference would an increase in FDI make? Critically evaluate the pros and cons. (UPSC 2014)