Why India needs a policy for fair revenue-sharing between Big Tech and digital publishers

Why India needs a policy for fair revenue-sharing between Big Tech and digital publishers

Why India needs a policy for fair revenue sharing between big tech and digital publishers

The digital media landscape is undergoing rapid changes, with the emergence of big tech platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and others that aggregate and distribute news content created by digital publishers. These platforms have become the dominant gatekeepers of online information, influencing what people see, read and share on the internet. However, there is a growing concern that these platforms are not paying a fair share of revenue to the digital publishers who invest in producing original and quality journalism.

Digital publishers, especially those who have a legacy of print media, have been facing financial challenges due to the decline in advertising revenue and the shift of readers to online platforms. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation, as many publishers have seen a drop in circulation and subscription revenue. According to a report by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the print media industry in India suffered a loss of Rs 4,000 crore in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.

In this context, it is important that digital publishers, who create original and credible content, get a fair share of revenue from the big tech platforms who act as aggregators of content created by others. This would ensure the sustainability and growth of the news industry, as well as the quality and diversity of journalism in India.

Several countries around the world have already taken steps to address this issue and ensure a level playing field between big tech and digital publishers. For instance, Australia passed a landmark law in February 2021 that requires Google and Facebook to negotiate with news publishers and pay them for their content. The law also empowers an independent arbiter to decide on the payment terms if the parties fail to reach an agreement. Similarly, France has implemented a copyright law that gives news publishers the right to demand payment from online platforms for displaying their content. The European Union has also introduced a directive that aims to protect the rights of news publishers and ensure fair remuneration for their content.

In India, there is no such policy or law that mandates fair revenue sharing between big tech and digital publishers. However, there is a growing recognition of the need for such a policy among the stakeholders. In January 2021, the Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra made a strong pitch for big-tech aggregators to share a part of their revenue with publishers of digital news, who generate original content. He said that Australia, Canada, France and European Union have already taken the initiative through their legislatures and strengthened their competition commissions to ensure a fair split of revenue among the creators of news content and the aggregators.

He also said that digital media has a major role in the inclusive digital growth of the nation, but it also poses challenges that impact the governance, the news industry and the social lives of citizens. He said that DNPA, which is the umbrella organization of India’s top 17 news publishers, has a history of service to the nation and has adequate systems of checks and balances to ensure factual and responsible news reporting.

Therefore, it is imperative that India adopts a policy for fair revenue sharing between big tech and digital publishers, in line with the global best practices and in consultation with all the stakeholders. This would not only benefit the news industry, but also enhance the quality, credibility and diversity of journalism in India.


(3) Canadian law to make big tech share revenue with publishers. https://moonshot.news/news/media-news/canadian-law-to-make-big-tech-share-revenue-with-publishers/.
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