US Newspaper Alliance Goes After Facebook and Google Over “Duopoly” Concerns

On Monday, the United States newspaper industry warned that online platforms Google and Facebook could have a “duopoly” over online news, suggesting that legislation should relax antitrust rules to allow collective negotiations with the two internet giants.

Indeed, The News Media Alliance said that Google and Facebook are currently dominating online news traffic in the digital advertising space. In fact, they said, “publishers are forced to surrender their content and play by their rules on how news and information is displayed, prioritized, and monetized.”

In the statement, the 2,000-media group-strong NMA said that all news organizations are “limited with disaggregated negotiating power against a de facto duopoly that is vacuuming up all but an ever-decreasing segment of advertising revenue.”

Formerly known as the Newspaper Association of America, the group includes big players in the journalism game. That includes both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and, of course, hundreds of smaller media groups and other regional new organization.

As such, NMA president David Chavern commented that internet platforms “distort the flow of economic value derived from good reporting.” He also notes that Google and Facebook—combined—account for more than 70 percent of the $73 billion spent on digital advertising, annually. In addition, these two entities consume most of the growth, occupying nearly 80 percent of all entire referral traffic.

Chavern also advised: “But the two digital giants don’t employ reporters. They don’t dig through public records to uncover corruption, send correspondents into war zones, or attend last night’s game to get the highlights.”

He goes on to say, “They expect an economically squeezed news industry to do that costly work for them.”

In response, head of news partnerships at Facebook, Campbell Brown, said, in a statement to the Associated Foreign Press: “We’re committed to helping quality journalism thrive on Facebook. We’re making progress through our work with news publishers and have more work to do.”
And Google has responded: “We want to help news publishers succeed as they transition to digital. In recent years we’ve built numerous specialized products and technologies, developed specifically to help distribute, fund, and support newspapers.”

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