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  5. Tech giants “feeding off” news publishers, says minister

A UK Government minister today (October 4) accused tech giants Google and facebook of “feeding off” the work of preofessional journalists.

Speaking at an event organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the Culture, Media and Sport Minister of State Sir John Whittingdale said professional journalism was “a vital part in the functioning of democracy” but was “under threat in a way that it has not been previously.”

He said: “Google and Facebook distribute news; they do not employ journalists. They are essentially feeding off the work of professional journalists. If they did not have access to professionally sourced news content, it might cost them around £1 billion in lost traffic.”

News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith told the meeting that legislation was needed to “fix the digital ecosystem” and  create fair deals for news publishers.

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill is currently at the report stage in the House of Commons.

“The tech market is not working. It is monopolistic, ” said Mr Meredith. “There are a few huge players who are abusing their power. That is not good for business. It is not good for consumers, and therefore it is not good for society. We must address this challenge and unleash the markets so they can work properly.”

A full report of the discussion can be found here

Scottish Newsbrands director John McLellan said, “It is vital for all news publishers that the legislation os passed without undue delay, becasue every eek that passes is another week that they do not receive fair value for the content they produce.”