BigTech should pay for news, says competition regulator

The UK should introduce a code to ensure BigTech provides adequate compensation to news publishers, said the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The news comes after Australia won a longstanding legal battle to make BigTech pay local publishers for news, which saw Facebook block 25 million Australian users from viewing news content on the platform.

Daniel Gordon, senior director of markets at the CMA, said the CMA agreed with “the general objectives of the Australian approach” when he addressed the House of Lords.
Gordon said tech firms could potentially face “very significant fines” if they did not protect “freedom of expression”.

The CMA are set to work with the newly formed Digital Markets Unit (DMA), which was created in March to police anti-competitive practices by BigTech, working with other government bodies such as Ofcom.

The legal disputes between publishers and BigTech are still ongoing worldwide, Google reached an agreement in January to pay an association of French publishers for reuse of their content.

Simeon Thornton, director at the CMA, said: 'It is understandable news media organisations, to whom Google is a very important source of traffic, will want to be able to plan and want to have confidence that when Google makes changes to its algorithm it is not motivated by nefarious commercial considerations.”

“Clearly algorithms are going to change, it is the nature of those algorithms that they must change over time.”

He added: “But I think the position we have reached in relation to algorithms is that it may merit the DMU being able to scrutinise those algorithms to see whether there are considerations being taken into account that shouldn’t be taken into account, for example financial considerations.'

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