Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has a solution to Facebook’s woes with news publishers. He wants Facebook to pay them.
Murdoch, who’s chairman of both News Corp and 21st Century Fox, issued a statement on Monday saying he thought Facebook and Google’s efforts to work with publishers that post on its platform has been “inadequate commercially, socially and journalistically.”
Murdoch suggested that the silicon valley giants should start paying publishers for handling their content in a similar manner to cable companies, via carriage fees. These fees are paid by cable and satellite television providers in the US to local, over-the-air broadcast stations for the right to carry local transmissions.
“If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” Murdoch wrote. “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.”
Murdoch controls Fox News as part of 21st Century Fox as well as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post through News Corp. These news properties were not part of the Disney-Fox deal that was announced in December.
At the moment Facebook doesn’t pay publishers for simply posting their news stories to the service. Through its instant articles platform Facebook has tried to establish an ad sharing arrangement with publishers who host their content natively on it. The move has not entirely been successful.
Facebook’s news feed changes
In an attempt address, the issue of news on its platform the company announced last week, it will rank news organisations by trustworthiness based on user feedback, diminishing its own role in influencing what news people see.
The move comes after the company faced severe criticism over the last two years for allowing misinformation and propaganda to spread on its platform and for supposedly favouring liberal news platforms over conservative ones.
This comes two weeks after Facebook had announced a major overhaul to users News Feeds, to emphasize posts, videos and photos shared by friends and family over publishers and brands. This fresh initiative will not change that but will have implications for what news is consumed on Facebook, potentially favouring the established publishers in media while hurting smaller independent news organisations. This was evidenced in the nearly 9% rise in the New York Times’ stock price following the announcement.