European news agencies eye revenue from internet giants

EANA calls on European Parliament to halt practice by Facebook and Google of not paying for using news content

European news agencies eye revenue from internet giants

The European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) is calling on internet giants like Google and Facebook to pay for using news content ahead of a Sept. 12 vote in the European Parliament on a new copyright law.

In a statement Tuesday, they called on the parliament to correct the "grotesque imbalance in how internet giants plunder press publishers’ and news agencies’ content to generate advertising revenues".

The alliance said Facebook and Google have been using vast quantities of news produced at great cost by press publishers and news agencies without paying for it.

"The reform has been fiercely opposed by Facebook and Google, who have campaigned on a complete fabrication: a supposed threat to people's free access to the internet. Yet this has never been in the slightest doubt," said the alliance, of which Turkey's official Anadolu Agency is a member.

EANA said Facebook and Google use stories to attract more and more advertising money and in doing so divert revenue away from the media.

"Their huge audiences lure a growing slice of content-related advertising, to the point that Facebook and Google have effectively become a duopoly, garnering between them 80 percent of global internet advertising revenue, excepting China, in 2017," it said.

"Under the reform, they would have to share a small fraction of their sales revenue with the producers of that content. It is about bringing copyright law up to date with reality, nothing more. The last European directive on this dates back to an era when Google, Facebook, YouTube and smartphones had yet to see the light of day," the statement said.

Facebook reported $40 billion in revenues in 2017 with profits of $16 billion. Google brought in $110 billion in revenue the same year, making $12.7 billion in profit.

"What we are really talking about is introducing a fair payment by those who have ripped off the news. For the sake of Europe’s free press and democratic values, EU lawmakers should press ahead with copyright reform," the alliance said.

EANA was founded on Aug. 21, 1956 in connection with a conference on new media technology held in Strasbourg

Its founding fathers were West European news agencies, Anadolu Agency (Turkey) and Tanjug (Yugoslavia). In 1970, agencies behind the so-called "iron curtain" were invited to join.