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January 22, 2018

Rupert Murdoch Calls On Tech Giants To Pay Cable-Style Carriage Fees To Legitimate News Providers

In a forceful statement, Rupert Murdoch has called on digital behemoths like Facebook and Google to pay cable TV-style carriage fees to legitimate news content providers such as News Corp., where he is executive chairman.

“Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable,” his statement reads. “Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.”

It continues: “There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism. We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.

“The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

Facebook in particular has faced scrutiny for its role in spreading artificial stories, especially during the 2016 election, a period when U.S. intelligence agencies have determined was when Russia interfered with U.S. democracy.

The social media giant this month announced a revamp of its News Feed to emphasize personal material over third-party news content. Many observers have warned will disadvantage legitimate news publishers, many of which have come to rely on the amplification Facebook provides.

Last month, ahead of the News Feed changes, the company announced it had developed tools to help users determine whether they were following Russian bots spreading phony posts.

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