European News Agencies Again Demand Google, Facebook, Etc. Pay Up For Sending Them Traffic
from the definition-of-insanity dept
Because it’s worked oh so well in the past, European news agencies are (again!) calling for service providers like Google and Facebook to start paying them money for sending them business.
Nine European press agencies, including AFP, called Wednesday on internet giants to be forced to pay copyright for using news content on which they make vast profits.
The call comes as the EU is debating a directive to make Facebook, Google, Twitter and other major players pay for the millions of news articles they use or link to.
“Facebook has become the biggest media in the world,” the agencies said in a plea published in the French daily Le Monde.
“Yet neither Facebook nor Google have a newsroom… They do not have journalists in Syria risking their lives, nor a bureau in Zimbabwe investigating Mugabe’s departure, nor editors to check and verify information sent in by reporters on the ground.”
“Access to free information is supposedly one of the great victories of the internet. But it is a myth,” the agencies argued.
“At the end of the chain, informing the public costs a lot of money.”
This is a doomed idea. First off, if the demands are a pain to implement, news agencies can expect to start seeing referral traffic drop as other news sources not tied to payment demands see their search engine stock rise. If they continue to press for a cut of these companies “billions,” they can expect to be cut off completely. This isn’t hypothetical.
Second, any agency that wants to cut off the search engines supposedly bleeding them dry can always block the engines’ crawlers. But this obviously isn’t about killing off search engine hits and Facebook sharing — it’s about dipping a hand into pockets of service providers for having the audacity to expand the reach of European news agencies.
Finally, there’s nothing in it for news agencies even if they succeed in getting a snippet tax implemented. They see companies worth billions and think skimming a little off the top will put them back in the black permanently. But anyone who knows anything about ad payouts knows CPM “taxes” aren’t the road to riches. In reality, any implemented scheme would involve hundreds of news sites divvying up fractions of cents between themselves for search result impressions. Payouts might be slightly higher for more direct clicks from referrers like Facebook, but at best, new agencies should expect a few bucks a month from a link tax, rather than the thousands (or millions) they envision.
The news agencies supporting this move are complaining about declining ad revenue and think charging platforms for sending them traffic is the solution. This has been tried and it hasn’t worked, but hope springs eternal when you’re all out of innovative ideas.