A global forum of antitrust experts has urged India to emulate the global best practices in sharing content with Big Tech platforms. Joining an e-discussion on how to restore fairness to the relationship between news publishers and Big Tech platforms, conducted as part of the 2nd DNPA Dialogue on December 9, the panel, which included experts from Canada and the US, called upon India to join hands with other countries to replicate Canada’s upcoming news media bargaining code. According to the speakers, the Canadian code is more robust and transparent than the one Australia brought into effect in 2021.
The speakers included Taylor Owen, Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics, and Communication at Canada’s Max Bell School of Public Policy; Courtney Radsch, Fellow at UCLA Institute for Technology, Law, and Policy in the US; and Paul Deegan, President and CEO of News Media Canada. The virtual roundtable was organised by the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA). The DNPA represents the digital arms of 17 top news media businesses in India.
According to the experts, the voluntary deals tech companies are making with media outlets are not enough and only healthy legislation can help create a level-playing field. India has the potential to show the world how to rebalance the publisher-platform relationship in terms of revenue-sharing, transparency, and accountability, the panel suggested.
Radsch, an expert on social media practices and citizen journalism, said that geographies such as the US, Europe, Canada, and India are doing a good job of designing a broader, global framework but collaborations can bring in better results. In fact, UNESCO is building a global model that could help protect legislative efforts in countries where laws can be undermined, he said.
Echoing Radsch, Deegan said it’s encouraging to see the news media bargaining codes of Australia and Canada being picked up elsewhere. “In fact, we’re all looking at the US as well,” he said.
Lauding Canada’s Bill, Owen said that one of the big improvements in this is that it will be overseen by a broadcast regulator (telecom commission) rather than through the lens of a competition bureau. “Also, with the Australian code, the mechanism for exemption for a publisher’s designation was crude and ill-defined. The Canadian one is better.”
The panel highlighted the pushback from tech platforms that should serve as a lesson for India as it aims to persuade Big Tech to offer a fair deal to news publishers. “Google has used a strategy that sought to divide publishers in response to the (Canadian) Bill, engaging in supporting some independent network of publishers. So, there’s an acrimonious debate between some publishers, which is unfortunate,” said Owen.