Indian Govt to ask Big Tech to share ad revenue with news publishers

Australia, Germany, and Canada have already imposed such conditions

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Indian Govt to ask Big Tech to share ad revenue with news publishers
The government feels digital advertising is in the hands of a few biggies, leaving Indian media companies at a disadvantage. Photo: Pexels

In a significant move, Big Tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, and Apple may have to pay Indian news publishers, both print and digital, a part of their revenue for using their original content.

It is possible that the revenue sharing agreement would be along the lines of agreements in Australia, France, Spain, Germany, and Canada, if an Indian government plan materializes, the Times of India recently reported.

The minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar told the publication that regulatory interventions in the form of revisions in IT laws could be made to this effect if needed. He told the newspaper that the market power of digital advertising is being consolidated in the hands of only a few Big Tech majors, leaving Indian media companies and many original content creators at a disadvantage. “The news publishers have no negotiating leverage at all, and this needs to be tackled effectively,” Chandrasekhar said on July 16.

In February, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) asked Google to compensate them for carrying their content online by sharing 85% of its ad revenues. Raising this issue, the Indian news publishers, both print and digital, had been calling for action against Google for allegedly imposing unfair terms on them and abusing its dominant position. 

The Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) and the INS had approached the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which has an ongoing probe against Google, noting that the tech giant had prima facie abused its dominant position in providing its news aggregation services.

The primary allegation raised by the DNPA is that more than 50% of the total traffic on the news websites is routed through Google, and it being the dominant player determines which news websites get discovered, as the Indian Printer and Publisher reported on 10 January.

The DNPA comprises the digital platforms of some of the leading Indian newspapers and media groups, and includes platforms such as Eenadu, Malayalam Manorama, Bennett Coleman, Indian Express, NDTV, India Today, and the ABP group.

Google has already been compelled by the competition commissions of the governments of Australia, France, and Germany to come up with a fairer way of sharing revenues with news publishers. In addition, the Competition Authority in France levied a fine of 500 million Euros on Google for non-compliance with its suggested measures, against which Google has decided not to appeal.

“After issuing interim measures in April 2020 and then sanctioning Google in July 2021 for 500 million Euros for non-compliance with these measures, the Authority welcomes the commitments made by Google,” said Benoit Coeure, president of the French Competition Authority.

“For the first time in Europe, the commitments made by Google provide a dynamic framework for negotiation and sharing of the necessary information for years to come,” Coeure added.

According to a report in IANS, Google signed deals to pay more than 300 publishers in Germany, France, and other EU countries for using their content. Canada introduced a law this year to bring about fairness in revenue sharing between digital news publishers and intermediary platforms. 

Australia was one of the first countries to come up with a new law requiring platforms such as Facebook and Google to pay local news publishers to link their content on their news feeds or search results. The agreement was forced by the government as Google and Facebook declined to amicably negotiate with the news publishers.

In fact, there has been an increased clamor and action against the Big Tech with many countries imposing fines in the form of millions of dollars or launching probes over their alleged monopolistic practices and privacy law violations.

Union minister of electronics and information technology Ashwini Vaishnaw recently told news agency ANI that the government was working to make social media more accountable, starting with self-regulation, industry regulation, and followed by government regulation.

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

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