I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra on Friday said it's important that digital platforms of news publishers "get a fair share of revenues" from Big Tech platforms.
"There have been issues regarding the financial health of not just the digital news industry but the parent print news industry as well post Covid. 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," said the Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in his message read at inaugural session of DNPA conclave.
In the message, Chandra said that it is clear that if the traditional news industry continues to be negatively impacted, "the future of journalism, our Fourth Pillar, is also hit. Thus, this is a question of journalism and credible content as well."
Chandra added that so much has happened in last few years that it is not so easy to keep pace with speed of changes that have taken place in the field of technology, Big Tech platforms and the larger eco-system.
Questions have emerged along with it. He added that there are issues that impact governance of a huge democracy, the changing dynamics of the news publishing industry, their businesses, social lives of citizens of the country and so on.
Digital media is expanding at a frantic pace and it has a major role in the inclusive digital growth of the nation. It has benefited our lives in so many ways yet we all remain wary as well, at times, for various reasons, said Chandra.
DNPA is the umbrella organisation of India’s top 17 news publishers. Chandra said that DNPA publishers have adequate systems of checks and balances in place to ensure that correct and factual news flows out and are "good examples of our stated policy of self-regulation". However, as India grows digitally, challenges have emerged in the sector where no such adequate systems of checks and balances are in place --unlike DNPA kind of publishers, Chandra added.
Chandra said that Australia, Canada, France, EU, etc have taken the initiative through their legislatures and strengthening of their competition commissions to ensure a fair split of revenue amongst the creators of news content and the aggregators. He hoped that the deliberations in the conference will lead to meaningful suggestions in the Indian context. He said government would do what is in best interest of all and act on the suggestions accordingly .
Also speaking on the occasion, Paul Fletcher , Member of Parliament, Australia and a key person behind bringing in the legislation on reforms in revenue sharing between Big Tech platforms and news publishers,
explained how the Australian government dealt with resistance from Google and Facebook when the draft of the code was first shared 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 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," he quipped.
Facebook, in retaliation also shut down pages of vital community services like Australian police, ambulances and the Red Cross, a move that turned out to be a PR mistake for the tech company.
"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 nearly 20 (times) from Google and 13 from Meta," he said.
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