UK newspaper industry demands levy on tech firms
News Media Association says Google and Facebook should fund the journalism from which they profit
The British newspaper industry’s trade body has said the government should force social media sites such as Facebook and Google to pay an annual financial levy to fund journalism, and set up a regulator that would force them to take legal responsibility for all the content on their platforms.
The News Media Association, the umbrella group that represents almost all national and local newspapers, including the Guardian, also said Facebook should share revenue with newspaper groups when their stories appear in newsfeeds – even if users only see the headlines and do not click.
It also called on the government to introduce a tax credit system, similar to that used to encourage investment in the British film industry, which would allow newspapers to claim a cash rebate for investment in areas such as investigative journalism.
Other ideas include forcing social media businesses to promote “bona fide” news sources that meet certain quality criteria, such as “consistent quality” of journalism – potentially prioritising material from more established news sources at the expense of new entrants.
The organisation made the proposals in its response to a government-backed review of the future of the British media industry, chaired by the economist Dame Frances Cairncross, which is attempting to find a future for sustainable high-quality journalism in the UK.
“The primary focus of concern today is the loss of advertising revenues which have previously sustained quality national and local journalism, and are now flowing to the global search engines and social media companies who make no meaningful contribution to the cost of producing the original content from which they so richly benefit,” said a spokesperson for the NMA.
The suggestions from the British newspaper industry, which has seen its revenue halve from £6.8bn in 2007 to £3.6bn in 2017, come as the government considers proposals for a standalone internet regulator following a series of social media scandals. A new regulator could be unveiled by the end of the year....MUCH MORE