Europe’s news agencies blast Google, Facebook for ‘plundering’ content

Europe’s biggest news agencies claimed Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion in 2017 while Google made $12.7 billion. (AFP)
Updated 04 September 2018
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Europe’s news agencies blast Google, Facebook for ‘plundering’ content

  • ‘The Internet giants’ plundering of the news media’s content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy’
  • ‘Can the titans of the Internet compensate the media without asking people to pay for access to the Internet, as they claim they would be forced to? The answer is clearly ‘yes’’

PARIS: Europe’s biggest news agencies accused Google and Facebook of “plundering” news for free on Tuesday in a joint statement that called on the Internet giants to share more of their revenues with the media.
In a column signed by the CEOs of around 20 agencies including France’s Agence France-Presse, Britain’s Press Association and Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur they called on the European Parliament to update copyright law in the EU to help address a “grotesque imbalance.”
“The Internet giants’ plundering of the news media’s content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy,” the column said.
European Parliament lawmakers are to set to debate a new copyright law this month that would force the Internet giants to pay more for creative content used on their platforms such as news, music or movies.
A first draft of the law was rejected in July and the plans have been firmly opposed by US tech firms, as well as advocates of Internet freedom who fear that the regulations could lead to higher costs for consumers.
“Can the titans of the Internet compensate the media without asking people to pay for access to the Internet, as they claim they would be forced to? The answer is clearly ‘yes’,” the column said.
The joint statement from the agencies, which are major suppliers of news, photos and video, said Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion (€34 billion) in 2017 and profits of $16 billion, while Google made $12.7 billion on sales of $110 billion.
“Who could reasonably argue that they are not in a position to make fair payment for the content they use?” the agencies asked.
“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,” they added.
The column marks a new lobbying effort by media groups, backed by artists such as Paul McCartney, to sway European lawmakers as they prepare for a second vote on September 12.
The fight is over two parts of the planned law.
The first is Article 13, which would make platforms like Google-owned YouTube legally liable for copyrighted material to prevent content producers from seeing their work posted without pay.
The second is Article 11, which would create a so-called “neighboring right” meaning that newspapers, magazines and news agencies would have to be paid when Google or other websites link to their stories.
“Without paying for it, Internet giants such as Google and Facebook use vast quantities of news that is produced at great cost by press publishers and news agencies,” added the joint statement on Tuesday.
Critics argue that the reform would lead to blanket censorship by tech platforms because of copyright problems, reducing their role as a hub for creativity, especially YouTube.
They say it would also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday Internet users who often use content without securing the rights.
The column was signed by the heads of TT in Sweden, STT in Finland, Belgium’s Belga and APA from Austria, as well as other media groups across the European continent.


Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

Updated 18 July 2019
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Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

  • India is among the last big growth markets for the company
  • Netflix faces competition from Amazon’s Prime Video and Walt Disney Co’s Hotstar
Netflix said on Wednesday it would roll out a lower-priced mobile-only plan in India within the next three months to tap into a price-sensitive market at a time the streaming company is losing customers in its home turf.
India is among the last big growth markets for the company, where it faces competition from Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video and Hotstar, a video streaming platform owned by Walt Disney Co’s India unit.
Netflix lost US streaming customers for the first time in eight years on Wednesday, when it posted quarterly results. It also missed targets for new subscribers overseas.
“India is a mobile-first nation, where many first-time users are experiencing the Internet on their phones. In such a scenario, a mobile-only package makes sense to target new users,” said Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Research.
The creator of “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” said in March that it was testing a 250-rupee ($3.63) monthly subscription for mobile devices in India, where data plans are among the cheapest in the world.
The country figures prominently in Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings’ global expansion plans.
“We believe this plan, which will launch in the third quarter, will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business,” the company said in a letter to investors released late on Wednesday.
Netflix currently offers three monthly plans in India, priced between 500 rupees ($7.27) and 800 rupees $11.63).
It has created a niche following in the country by launching local original shows like the thriller “Sacred Games” and dystopian tale “Leila,” which feature popular Bollywood actors.
The second season of “Sacred Games” is set to release in August.
In contrast, Hotstar, which also offers content from AT&T Inc’s HBO and also streams live sports, charges 299 rupees ($4.35) per month. Amazon bundles its video and music streaming services with its Prime membership.
“We’ve been seeing nice steady increases in engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on. Growth in that country is a marathon, so we’re in it for the long haul,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.