By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-06-28 20:44:55
In a development that bodes well for news content generators all over the world, internet behemoth Google has decided to pay news content entities to carry "high quality" content in Australia, Brazil and Germany. The decision is not by choice or accident. Several countries, France and Australia being the pioneers, have either enacted laws to make it mandatory for aggregators like Google and Facebook to share advertising revenue with content generators or are thinking along those lines. Google knows, and Facebook and others will soon follow this lead, that it cannot digest the whole advertising pie without having to invest in news gathering or without having to pay entities that do so.
It takes just a few clicks to upload ready-made content on an aggregator site. But it takes massive investment, the toil of many reporters, the intelligence of many editors and the mind of many designers to make that content ready for publication. News content generators should receive a justifiable share of the revenue generated when aggregators get readers and advertising revenue by carrying this content. It will not suffice to claim that they are giving the content a wider reach through their captive and registered users. Since the Indian media is huge in size and content is generated in many languages and these aggregators carry it in almost all languages on their platforms, India should be included in the list of countries where aggregators will pay for content, and at the earliest.
And what is with this high-quality content thing? Aggregators have a screening policy in place through which they select publications and then select the content they carry. In that sense, it is already high quality. Hence, instead of trying to create confusion, aggregators must pay for all content that they carry on their platforms. Obviously, the terms will vary according to the engagement the content receives but there should be a base rate of payment and bonuses if it goes viral. Aggregators must realize that they cannot get everything for free. If they do not, then the government should follow other countries and make it mandatory for them to pay content generators by enacting a law and enforcing it strictly. News media is under tremendous pressure. While costs have escalated, revenue has dipped. The pandemic has worsened the situation. Internet companies that generate huge revenue by carrying content generated by media companies must share it with them.