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Data sharing to foster information as a public good: the case of media viability and safety of journalists in the digital ecosystem - UNESCO (2023)

This brief comes as part of the UNESCO series World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. It examines recent trends in and challenges to data sharing between media stakeholders and online platforms, specifically considering the potential impact on media viability and the safety of journalists. This analysis is carried out on the basis that such data sharing will benefit the strengthening of information as a public good. Drawing from expert insight and consultations, it delineates clear data asks, possible uses and benefits for all involved stakeholders, and recommendations moving forward.
Edited by Daniel O’Maley, Waqas Naeem, and Courtney C. Radsch
In bringing together diverse voices and perspectives, this report is both a microscope and a telescope—offering detailed examinations of specific issues while also zooming out to consider their broader implications for the sustainability of journalism and news media in the digital and AI era. Through the lens of data, access, and transparency, we encounter a complex, interwoven narrative requiring not only attention but also action. As we move through a time marked by rapid tech advancements and shifting political landscapes, these key issues transition from being trendy topics to critical building blocks that can either support or weaken the future of media.
DC-Sustainability-Annual-Report-2023_web-150ppi.pdf
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What’s up with Ukraine’s media regulation? - Digital Security Lab Ukraine, September 2023

DSLU has prepared its third volume of the monthly digest on media and digital rights regulation, now covering September 2023. This series of digests provides an overview of the proposed and adopted legislation in the spheres of freedom of expression, media regulation, privacy and data protection, Internet regulation in general, and the activities of the National Broadcasting Council in the area of Media Law implementation. This third digest covers changes in governance inside the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Expression; the flaws of the recently adopted amendments to the Law on National Minorities (Communities) of Ukraine; the continued discussion surrounding two draft laws aimed at amending Article 301 of the Criminal Code currently criminalizing pornography in Ukraine and the threats to the National Broadcasting Council’s independence emanating from the new Law on Lawmaking Activities.
Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code in March 2021 to ensure fair compensation for news content, served as a stepping stone for similar legislation globally. While Google and Meta initially made deals with larger Australian media companies, forming the Public Interest Publishers Alliance (PIPA) allowed smaller independent publishers to better negotiate. While some argue that requiring platforms to do deals might yield more comprehensive results, Australia's approach aims to replicate a functioning market and distribute funds to publishers.
The article discusses the value of news on digital platforms such as Google Search and whether tech giants should pay for the news they use. According to the Swiss FehrAdvice & Partners AG recent study, the presence of journalistic content significantly enhances the user experience, with an estimated high value potentially reaching $440 million annually. The study highlights the need for cooperation between media platforms and content providers for a balanced information ecosystem and raises questions about how tech giants like Google should compensate news publishers for the value they provide.

Big Tech and Journalism - Principles for Fair Compensation | GIBS - Gordon Institute of Business Science, July 2023

The Big Tech and Journalism – Building a Sustainable Future for the Global South conference was held from 13-14 July 2023 at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg. Hosted by the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank, the conference brought together over 70 journalists, news publishers, media organisations, scholars, activists, lawyers, and economists from 24 countries to discuss solutions to the crisis of the sustainability of journalism and its intersection with the role of major tech platforms. The conference aimed to share lessons learned and identify commonalities within and across regions with regard to media sustainability initiatives via legislation and competition authorities. Find the report here.

News publishers declare global principles for bargaining with Big Tech - Poynter - July 26th 2023, Anya Schiffrin & Courtney Radsch

A two day meeting in Johannesburg gathered journalists and scholars globally to discuss principles for fair compensation and regulations to address the dominance of Big Tech. Australia’s influential 2021 legislation generating $140 million in payments to publishers has sparked global interest, paving the way for Canada, the United Kingdom and other nations to follow Australia’s footsteps. However, difficulties in balancing government involvement, transparency and adequate compensation remain for policymakers

Saving Journalism–Getting Big Tech to Pay for the News They Use? - Jonathan Heawood, Michael Markovitz, Anya Schiffrin, July 24th, 2023

The article discusses ways journalists can address the power of Big Tech companies in shaping the information landscape to maintain quality journalism. Laws have been introduced to regulate this relationship, such as the case in Australia, the UK and Canada, attempting to find balance between public interest and innovation. A set of principles, 'Big Tech and Journalism: Principles for Fair Compensation,' has been created to promote diversity, public interest journalism, and prevent preferential deals with powerful news organizations. The aim is to ensure fair revenue sharing with news publishers from platforms to maintain a democratic public sphere, calling for independent regulators, transparent deals, and public accountability.
The article discusses the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) as it has been advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee, to push Google and Meta to pay news outlets for linking to their content. Critics argue that the JCPA benefits large commercial media, failing to support smaller independent media and noncommercial outlets. Controversies include ways of addressing content moderation, allowing extremist or conspiracy content providers to sue tech firms. According to Free Press Action, the JCPA fails to address the crisis in local journalism, prioritizing profits over quality journalism as a public service.
The article discusses Brazil’s “Fake News Bill”, a law aimed at regulating online platforms and messaging services, threatening existing internet regulations and significantly altering Brazil’s online landscape. These limitations include the principles of intermediary liability exemption, risk assessment and mitigation, introduced vague crisis protocols, and broadly criminalizes the dissemination of “untrue facts”. This bill has polarized political debates on internet freedom and human rights with the Brazilian Supreme Court expected to issue a decision on the bill’s constitutionality of these provisions.
Amid Australia’s New Media Bargaining Code, publishers from Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, New Zealand, or the USA are estimating how much Google and Meta owe them for using their content. The article discusses the governmental scrutiny Google and Meta face in addition to Swiss publishers claiming Google owes an estimated $166 million. However, smaller media outlets have pushed for better bargaining rights while finding arbitration challenging due to limited resources.
Two years after Australia's New Media Bargaining Code, with Brazil, Canada and the UK following, recent concerns include the lack of mention of transparency requirements, how media outlets spend the money and Google and Meta’s consistent pushback. Additionally, allocating these funds raises questions about supporting various roles within news organizations, growing divisions between large media outlets and independent journalists and ensuring protection of political influence.
Similar to Australia's News Media Bargaining Code, Canada's Online News Act (Bill C-18) aims to address the imbalance between digital platforms and news publishers. The legislation gives power to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to regulate agreements between digital platforms and news publishers, with "baseball-style" arbitration to ensure fair deals. However, critics argue it wrongly assumes platforms unfairly profit from news content and may lead to government interference. Google and Meta have expressed concerns, with Meta threatening to block news content on Facebook in Canada. Despite similar legislation growing globally, the future of the Online News Act remains uncertain, with a growing need of protecting public service journalism.
Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, requires Google and Facebook to pay for news, uniting political parties and media outlets and contributing over $140 million annually into Australian journalism. If no agreement is reached, this law mandates government intervention, avoiding prolonged negotiations that could harm smaller outlets. Despite initial concerns, it has benefitted numerous publications, both large and small, and received bipartisan and public support due to the vital role of reliable journalism, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns linger about transparency and nondisclosure agreements, while smaller Australian outlets have successfully secured deals through collective bargaining. Similar legislation is being considered in Canada and other countries.
The Canadian Online News Act, aims at addressing the perceived imbalance between digital platforms and publishers. The Act compels large digital platforms to negotiate with news publishers regarding payment for using their content or face arbitration. Despite Google and MEta’s opposition, it aims to ensure fair compensation for news content, support journalism, maintain journalistic independence, and promote the sustainability of the Canadian news marketplace. Criticism includes the potential exclusion of smaller publishers, issues related to transparency, and the risk of excessive government involvement in journalism. Nevertheless, the Act represents an effort to support journalism in Canada amid changing media dynamics and global policy developments.

Making Big Tech Pay for the News They Use - Courtney Radsch, July 2022

As policymakers around the world consider how to rebalance the relationship between Big Tech and the news industry, it is imperative that they take a global view and consider the implications for independent news outlets in developing and low-income countries. Pioneering laws and policies like Australia’s 2021 News Media Bargaining Code and the European Union’s 2021 Digital Copyright Directive, which compel platforms to pay for the news they use, have inspired publishers globally and spurred other countries to pursue similar policies. This report examines three types of policy interventions: taxing digital advertising, empowering news media to collectively bargain with Big Tech, and requiring tech platforms to pay licensing fees for using news content. It finds that implementing any of these approaches is not just about political will, but also about institutional design, legitimacy, and trust.
The article discusses Facebook’s growing distancing from the news industry, reconsidering to financially support news organizations shifting towards short-form videos such as TikTok. Despite Facebook’s declining news-interests, publishers are getting money from Facebook and Google, largely driven to maintain good public relations. Australia, however, passed a law forcing tech giants to pay Australian publishers, with specific amounts held secret. This model has inspired the UK and Canada to pass similar laws, with Facebook increasingly removing news from its platform.

Saving Journalism 2: Global Strategies and a Look at Investigative Journalism, Anya Schiffrin, Hannah Clifford & Theodora Dame Adjin-Tettey, January 18, 2022

The authors re-examine the steps documented in the first report and write in the executive summary: "The appetite for sweeping change and broad support for quality information we described then has grown. Many of the organizations we spoke to last year are close to making major announcements and all feel they made headway in 2020. In the absence of research and hard evidence as to what works best (not unique to journalism—some things are essentially unknowable) we’re seeing pragmatism, with different groups backing policies that seem politically feasible." The authors are looking to find answers to the question: "if there were agreement and a concerted push, would it make a difference given the political constraints that exist around the world?"

Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility (DCPR)

Online platforms, such as social networks and other interactive online services, give rise to transnational “cyber-spaces” where individuals can gather and express their personalities imparting and receiving information and ideas. By reason of their transnational dimension as well as of their private nature, online platforms are regulated through contractual provisions, unilaterally established by the platforms’ providers and enshrined in the platforms’ Terms of Service (ToS).
With a truly world-embracing membership, the Dynamic Coalition Hub has become a valuable space to collectively evaluate national-level opportunities and barriers to different solutions currently being explored by governments, advocacy organisations, and by newsrooms as they independently look to diversify income streams.
By identifying policy priorities and engagement synergies with existing communities, this issue paper establishes a foundation for journalism support and media development stakeholders to consolidate their strategies, promote a set of objectives for further collaboration, and customize their delivery at/within relevant Internet governance and policy-related fora/processes. This document does so by exploring the primary issues and processes that overlap between media development and Internet governance, and proposes terms and working modalities that the working group could adopt and focus on in terms of Internet governance.
GFMD issue paper (v4) - Media Development and Internet Governance (1).pdf
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