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Google and Facebook ‘to be forced to pay publishers by law’ – report

Nadine DorriesThe trade body for the regional and national press has welcomed reports of new laws that will require Google and Facebook to pay newspapers for their content.

According to the Mail on Sunday, tech platforms will be encouraged to negotiate payment deals with news organisations in plans modelled on a system that has been introduced in Australia.

The regime would be overseen by the Digital Markets Unit, launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport last year.

The MoS says the move is being driven by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, pictured, with a DMS source telling the paper the planned regime was “pro-competition” and “supports the sustainability of the press”.

The source said: “The new regime will be an important vehicle to tackle the imbalance of power between the largest platforms and publishers.

“The measures would give publishers greater transparency over the algorithms that drive traffic and revenue, more control over the presentation and branding of their content, as well as greater access to data on how users interact with their content.”

Both Google and Facebook have introduced schemes in the past year which sees them pay some regional titles for their content.

But News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith has welcomed further Government intervention on the issue.

He said: “The NMA has consistently called for urgent legislation to put the Digital Markets Unit on a statutory footing.

“We welcome reports that work on this legislation is underway and will include a requirement for platforms to pay publishers for their content.

“For too long the tech platforms have been able to abuse their dominant position to leech advertising revenues away from the publishers who invest in news content while contributing next to nothing back into the sector.

“It is vital that the new regime brings this unfair and unsustainable imbalance of power to an end once and for all, ensuring consumers have access to trusted sources of news and information online.”

When approached by HTFP, Facebook owner Meta also pointed out it has invested $17m in the Community News Project, which now funds 100 regional journalists across the UK.

HTFP has approached Google for a comment.