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This time, i think big tech may be right

By Graham Young - posted Wednesday, 13 March 2024

Three years ago, Australia was a world "leader" when it mandated digital platforms, like Facebook and Google, to pay media organisations for news items curated on their platforms.

This year Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, and a brood of other social media, has called time on the practice. They are right to do so.

It's an attempt by dinosaur companies to stave off their extinction by taxing their evolved rivals.


The legislation also violates normal commercial practice, is a perversion of copyright laws, and grossly unfair to the digital platforms, and could ultimately see them go broke.

Facebook payments alone are worth $250 million (US$162.6 million) to the legacy dinosaurs. If they lose them, it will put a huge hole in their profitability.

Let's put that in perspective.

The Nine Network-broadcaster of Channel Nine and publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and the Australian Financial Review-made a profit of $181.8 million last financial year.

News Corp., Australia's largest owner of newspapers, earned $224.7 million on its total operations, here and overseas.

The $250 million from Meta is split between all of Australia's major media organisations and is cumulative over the period of the licence to date, but it is money that effectively slips through to their bottom lines without incurring any costs on the way through-it has to be a significant proportion of their meagre profits.


So mainstream media is fighting back against Meta's decision to stop paying news outlets.

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia has claimed:

Cancelling those commercial agreements will obstruct the ability of millions of Australians to access reliable and trusted news and information about the communities in which they live.

Have no doubt, jobs will be lost, titles will close, communities will be at risk of not receiving the quality local news they deserve, and our democracy as a whole will suffer.

It will also, sadly, fuel the explosion of fake news and other junk proliferating on social media.

To say this is hyperbole would be to malign hyperbole, and it is extraordinary that it would come from the executive chairman of a major media organisation.

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This article was first published by the Epoch Times.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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