Google, Meta owe US news publishers around $14 billion a year: Poynter

A recently published working paper by Poynter estimates that Google and Meta owe U.S. publishers an annual sum ranging between $11.9 and $13.9 billion. Despite assertions by tech giants that news is non-essential, with publishers benefiting from the traffic their platforms drive, the study reveals the significance of news to Big Tech platforms, generating value for both parties. Leveraging insights from over 50 years of research in the economics of bargaining, the authors determine a fair payment for news. Collective negotiation, as envisioned in proposals like the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, could substantially increase payments to publishers.
Tech giants have resisted traditional licensing and copyright fees, withholding audience traffic and impression numbers. Payments made are often meager, through small grants or private arrangements with major outlets. This strategy, while keeping the cost of news low, has allowed Google and Meta to amass wealth through advertising revenue.
News deserts, a global issue, have emerged as outlets grapple with revenue losses, though some, like The New York Times and The Guardian, offset losses with subscriptions and other income.
Australia took action in 2021, passing the Australian News Media Bargaining Code to address power imbalances between large platforms and news publishers. Google responded by signing nondisclosure-covered payment agreements globally, disadvantaging smaller outlets.
As global laws evolve, establishing a standard is crucial for equity among smaller outlets. The working paper, co-authored with economists and reviewed by industry experts, estimates news contributions to Meta and Google revenues. Building on a Swiss study, the analysis was applied to the US market, reviewing available deals and benchmarking against industry practices.
Estimating a 50% revenue split, Poynter suggests Google owes $10 to 12 billion to US news publishers, with a conservative estimate of Facebook owing $1.9 billion.


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