NEW YORK: Facebook has pledged $100 million in financing and advertising spending to support news organizations, including local publishers in the US, reeling from pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
News publishers, especially print media, have taken the brunt as many advertisers pulled their marketing budgets to rein in costs because of virus-related uncertainty.
Vatican’s 160-year-old newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, which suspended printing last week, was the latest in line of a number of print publishers struggling to operate in safe conditions after the outbreak.
Facebook’s donation include $25 million in emergency grant funding for local media, and $75 million in marketing spend for news organizations globally, it said.
The social network said the first round of its grants went to 50 local newsrooms in the US and Canada.
Corporate America has pitched in several ways to assist from the fallout of the fast spreading virus, even as many of the companies have been forced to dramatically scale back operations.
On Friday, Google-parent Alphabet Inc. said it would donate more than $800 million in funds and ad credits to businesses, government and health organizations.
Facebook earlier said it was lowering video streaming quality on its platform and on Instagram in Latin America, replicating measures adopted in Europe, to ease network congestion in a region that is starting to feel the grip of the coronavirus.
The world’s largest social network followed the steps of Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Walt Disney in response to a call by the EU to stave off Internet gridlock as thousands of people work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“To help alleviate any potential network congestion, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Latin America,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, adding the company is working with partners to manage bandwidth constraints amid heavier demand.
Brazilian streaming platform GloboPlay, owned by the country’s largest TV channel, announced that video streaming in 4K and Full High Definition was being temporarily suspended to preserve Brazil’s Internet infrastructure and allow more people to access its contents.
Asked about future plans to lower streaming quality in Brazil, like it did in Europe, Netflix said it “will continue to work with Internet service providers and governments all over the world and will apply these changes in other places if necessary.”
Local telecoms regulator Anatel has signed a commitment pact with carriers and other providers to keep Brazilians connected during the coronavirus outbreak, creating a crisis committee to coordinate actions and monitor data traffic and the network capacity.
“Anatel, within the scope of the risk management and network performance monitoring group, will prioritize emergency solutions whose main goal is the continuity of the service and its access by the Brazilian population,” the regulator said.