Tuesday, 23 January 2018 08:52

Murdoch says Facebook should pay for using news stories Featured

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The executive chairman of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, says that if Facebook wants to recognise "trusted" publishers then it should pay them a carriage fee similar to that paid by cable firms.

News Corporation is the world's biggest media company, and owns TV, radio and news outlets in numerous countries, including Australia.

Murdoch was reacting to Facebook's recent announcement that it would be depending on users to judge the trustworthiness of news sources, in the wake of many fake news stories being circulated in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election.

And a week earlier, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said that the company would prioritise posts by users and their friends over those from publishers and brands.

Google has also come under fire in the US for spreading stories that were not true.

Said Murdoch: "Facebook and Google have popularised scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable.

"Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically."

News Corporation has paywalls on many of its sites and does not allow Google to provide links that would allow randoms readers to access a story without subscribing.

Many of Murdoch's publications and in particular the Fox News channel that he owns, have been accused of spreading their own brand of fake news. One of his British publications, News of the World, was shut down in 2011 after it was found that its reporters had hacked into the phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians.

Murdoch said that there had been a great deal of discussion about subscription models "but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognises the investment in and the social value of professional journalism".

"We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms."

He said the time had come to consider a different route.

"If Facebook wants to recognise ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies.

"The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

Thousands of journalists worldwide have lost their jobs as profits at major media outlets have plummeted in the wake of moving online. Google and Facebook dominate online advertising, earning nearly three-quarters of the growth in revenue from online advertising.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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