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Need to pay more to newspapers for using content: INS to Google

In a letter to Google India country manager Sanjay Gupta, INS president L Admiloolam said that Google should increase publisher share of advertising revenue to 85%.

The INS letter said newspapers employ thousands of journalists on the ground at considerable cost for gathering information, and that this content was not just proprietary but gave Google its "authenticity in India".

The Indian Newspaper Society wrote to Google on Thursday asking it to compensate Indian newspapers comprehensively for the use of their content, and to share details of its advertising revenues.

In a letter to Google India country manager Sanjay Gupta, INS president L Admiloolam said that Google should increase publisher share of advertising revenue to 85%. The first such demand raised of Google in the country, the letter coincided with the Australian Parliament passing a law requiring Google and Facebook to pay media companies for content.

The INS letter said newspapers employ thousands of journalists on the ground at considerable cost for gathering information, and that this content was not just proprietary but gave Google its “authenticity in India”.

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In a press release, the INS said, “The Society insisted that Google should increase the publisher share of advertising revenue to 85 per cent, and also ensure more transparency in the revenue reports provided to publishers by Google.” The INS said its digital team and Google had been in “engaging” discussions for the past six months.

Asked what percentage of Google advertising revenues goes to the publisher in the current system, a member of the INS digital sub-committee that is talking to Google told The Indian Express, “That is exactly the point, that the system is opaque, there is little information to go on. As publishers, we just get a cheque at the end of the month. We don’t know what percentage, we don’t know the methodology, we don’t know the reason we get ‘x’ amount. Basically it’s our content, and we should be getting a much bigger share.”

The Indian Express made several attempts to reach Google, but no response was forthcoming.

The INS letter talked about how the pandemic as well as the “current digital business model” were making situation unviable for the print industry. Noting that “newspapers play a vital role in society”, the INS said, “However newspaper publishers are seeing their share of the advertising pie shrinking in the digital space, even as Google is taking a ‘giant share of advertising spends’.”

The letter pointed out that world over publishers have been raising the issue of fair payment for content and proper sharing of advertising revenue. “It is also noted that Google has recently agreed to better compensate and pay publishers in France, the European Union and notably Australia.”

The INS also raised the issue of more prominence being given to editorial content from “Registered News Publishers”, so as to tackle fake news, and said Google often picks up content from sites that are not credible.

On Thursday, the Australian Parliament passed amendments to make Google and Facebook pay for news, after agreeing to some tweaks allowing publishers to negotiate payments with Facebook and Google. This followed a brief standoff where Facebook blocked news-sharing functions in the country. The company has claimed that the tweaked laws allow it to retain “the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation”.

On Thursday, Facebook also announced plans to invest $1 billion to “support the news industry” over the next three years. Google had earlier said in October that it would pay publishers $1 billion over the next three years.

Google recently struck deals with major Australian news businesses, claiming arrangements with more than 50 publishers in the country and more than 500 globally.

The European Union meanwhile is working on copyright rules that would allow news companies and publishers to negotiate payments. Microsoft is working with European publishers to push big tech platforms to pay for news.

With AP inputs

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