Peers have called for a “new settlement” to protect the role of local and public interest news.
A House of Lords report has called on the government to provide support for news organisations in dealing with the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
The Report, by the Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies, has called for a code of conduct to formalise the relationship between publishers and online platforms – saying there needs to be a “fundamental rebalancing of power” away from the latter.
It has also called for the Competition and Markets Authority to conduct a full market investigation into online platforms’ control over digital advertising.
James, pictured, told the committee technology platforms have had a “dramatic negative effect on local journalism”.
The report states: “Mr Mitchinson stated that due to changes in the business model necessitated by platforms over the last decade, the output generated by local newspapers and websites has fallen by half.
“He suggested that there was an urgent need for technology platforms to more fairly distribute their revenue with news providers.
“Mr Mitchinson stated that much of the wealth generated through platforms came from the work done by regional news companies.
“He argued that this would not be a handout but instead was a structural redistribution of the amount of revenue that comes from their content.”
The committee found this issue had been “further exacerbated” by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report adds: “There is a need for a fundamental rebalancing of power away from technology platforms which have abused their position to siphon revenue away from public interest journalism. Other democratic countries across the globe are slowly concluding that this is necessary.
“Countries must ask difficult questions about the power of online platforms and their control over the advertising market. In the UK this should mean the CMA moving from their initial review into a full market investigation.
“The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee is also currently conducting an inquiry into the future of journalism and this should enable further informed discussion in this area.
“A new settlement is needed to protect the role of local and public interest news. The government should work urgently to implement those recommendations of the Cairncross review which it accepts, as well as providing support for news organisations in dealing with the impact of COVID-19.
“The Competition and Markets Authority should conduct a full market investigation into online platforms’ control over digital advertising.”