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What Google and Facebook Owe News Publishers

As more and more countries follow in Australia’s footsteps and force Google and Facebook to pay publishers for using their content, digital platforms have sought to thwart these bills by paying news producers directly. But a new study shows that existing deals do not capture the full value generated by news content.

HOUSTON/CAMBRIDGE/SAN FRANCISCO – It’s the same story around the world. Faced with an avalanche of misinformation and disinformation online, declining trust in media and government, and the proliferation of “news deserts,” governments, philanthropists, and publishers are desperately looking for ways to fund quality journalism.

In 2021, Australia broke new ground by passing the News Media Bargaining Code, compelling Alphabet (Google) and Meta (Facebook) to pay media outlets for news content shared on their platforms. This model has since gained traction worldwide, with Canada adopting its own version of the Australian law (C-18) in June and South Africa launching an investigation into the digital advertising market. Countries like Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, and Switzerland have all considered similar bills, and Brazil’s ambitious Fake News Law, which was thwarted in May, has recently been revived.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, aimed at allowing news publishers to engage in collective bargaining, was introduced in March by US Senator Amy Klobuchar and has since stalled. In June, California’s State Assembly passed the California Journalism Preservation Act, which would require large tech companies to share their advertising revenues with news outlets. But the bill has been put on hold until 2024.