US newspaper group assails Google-Facebook online 'duopoly'

US newsstands are increasingly rare as readers turn to online platforms for information
US newsstands are increasingly rare as readers turn to online platforms for information
The US newspaper industry on Monday warned of a "duopoly" in online news by Google and Facebook, and called for legislation that would relax antitrust rules allowing collective negotiations with the internet giants.

The News Media Alliance said that because Google and Facebook dominate online news traffic digital advertising, "publishers are forced to surrender their content and play by their rules on how news and information is displayed, prioritized and monetized."

A statement by the association of some 2,000 media groups said news organizations "are limited with disaggregated negotiating power against a de facto duopoly that is vacuuming up all but an ever-decreasing segment of advertising revenue."

The group, formerly known as the Newspaper Association of America, includes large dailies like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal as well as hundreds of smaller media groups and regional news organizations.

The request comes amid a prolonged slump in traditional print news, as readers increasingly turn to online platforms.

News Media Alliance president David Chavern, writing in a Wall Street Journal commentary, said that the internet platforms "distort the flow of economic value derived from good reporting."

He said Google and Facebook account for more than 70 percent of the $73 billion spent each year on digital advertising, and they eat up most of the growth, with nearly 80 percent of all online referral traffic coming from the two firms.

"But the two digital giants don't employ reporters. They don't dig through public records to uncover corruption, send correspondents into war zones, or attend last night's game to get the highlights," Chavern said.

"They expect an economically squeezed news industry to do that costly work for them."

Facebook and Google, which share some revenue with news organizations on certain platforms, have been stepping up efforts to help media groups with grants and other programs.

Facebook's head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said in a statement to AFP: "We're committed to helping quality journalism thrive on Facebook. We're making progress through our work with news publishers and have more work to do."

Google said in a statement: "We want to help news publishers succeed as they transition to digital. In recent years we've built numerous specialized products and technologies, developed specifically to help distribute, fund, and support newspapers."

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© 2017 AFP

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Jul 10, 2017
It's kind of funny that some of the richest men in the world (Bezos, Slim and Buffet) would plead poverty and ask the government to give them the power to coordinate their negotiations with Google/Facebook when their papers are big supporters of anti-trust laws. It also suggests they aren't very good investors if they have to get government force on their side to make their investments produce returns.

Frankly, seems to me they bought these papers for the purpose of currying favor from liberal politicians in power, who are no longer in power.

Jul 10, 2017
There is no liberal or conservative. There are no winning sides for +99.9% of the people reading this.

There is only a barely covert (exposure is simple -just look with open eyes), deep state imperialistic, corporate, and oligarchical fascism, with you as the rump and the meat --- ground in the wheels and gears of their insanity.

That's it.

Keep it straight.

Jul 11, 2017
Yes, indeed the traditional "papers" are being forced to irrelevance by the "duopoly" BUT they are their own worst enemies as well. I go to a number of "newspaper" websites to view articles written by excellent journalists which you do NOT find in the duopoly". After an article or two one is inundated with subscription pop-ups which do not go away after awhile. Here's the kicker. They are asking for the same rates that they do for actually receiving the hard copy newspaper. On-line subscriptions should be far less because they could then easily make money because of "no printing costs, no distribution costs and a larger customer base". I wish I could sign up to a few papers (NYT, Globe and Mail, Washington Post) because of the excellent writers but the costs are prohibitive. Lower the price and let us in, you'll make the cash you deserve because of the volume of business you'll generate on-line.

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