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Fighting for their due

July 13,2017
Media outlets across the world share a common problem — the threat of online aggregators and platforms free-riding on their work as journalists. Over 2,000 news organizations in the United States have formed the News Media Alliance and have begun lobbying for a special antitrust exemption that would allow them to jointly negotiate ad rates and other deals with online giants like Facebook and Google. If they gain the exemption, news organizations would be able to negotiate with online players using a symbiotic growth business model.

The U.S. media complain that even though Facebook and Google get up to 70 percent of all online ad sales, thanks to their circulation of news content, news providers do not receive their fair share from the two online behemoths. These organizations “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,“ said David Chavern, who heads the New Media Alliance. “They expect an economically squeezed news industry to do the costly work for them.”

The group also complained that false, amateurish, unchecked news attracting greater attention on online platforms has become prevalent and gets mixed with content from traditional news outlets, which undermines the overall credibility of news.

The problem is the same for the news industry across the world. Naver and Kakao dominate news channels in Korea and exercise more power on what news items receive the spotlight than the original news publishers do. Nevertheless, as portal sites are excluded from antitrust regulations under the wireless communications law, local media organizations do not even have basic data on how much of their profits get stolen by online aggregators.

The two organizations dominate nearly 90 percent of online ad revenue and get most of the online traffic from news. Yet news providers don’t get their fair share of the returns. The news industry also needs to form a joint front to fight for its rights through legal and administrative efforts.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 12, Page 30