Big tech companies that profit by funnelling news into their search results and feeds must give a “fair share of revenues” to publishers, the Indian government has said, citing a need to address the “imbalance” in the relationship between the two.
Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra both emphasised the importance of this issue for the future of journalism and the financial health of the news industry, both digital and print.
Chandra linked the issue to the “strained financial health” of media companies in a message at a conclave organised by the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) – an umbrella organisation of 17 leading Indian news publishers, including NDTV.
“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,” he said.
The top government official pointed to initiatives taken by other countries such as Australia, Canada, France and the EU, which have passed legislation and strengthened their competition commissions to ensure a fair split of revenue between news content creators and aggregators.
Chandrasekhar echoed the sentiment, saying, “We hope to address this issue of disproportionate control and imbalance of dynamics between content creation and its monetisation and the power that ad-tech companies and platforms hold today.”
The structure of the internet had led to a “deeply inbuilt imbalance” in the dynamics of content creation and its monetisation, leaving smaller organisations severely disadvantaged, he said, addressing the event via video link.
The upcoming Digital India Act could solve the issue, following a solution similar to that of Australia, he said, referring to a law passed two years ago that requires digital platforms like Facebook and Google to pay Australian media outlets