Big Media is Anticompetitive

media-monopolyI’m going to comment on the New York Times article News Outlets to Seek Bargaining Rights Against Google and Facebook. Note that I provide a link to the original content in all my commentaries, because I believe in giving them fair access to my audience.

Google and Facebook continue to gobble up the digital advertising market, siphoning away revenue that once paid for the quality journalism that Google and Facebook now offer for free.

This seems like an acknowledgement that stories offered for free on Google and Facebook are “quality journalism”. Seems to be a Freudian slip, judging by the rest of the article.

For all of Google’s and Facebook’s efforts to support journalism by helping news organizations find new revenue streams — and survive in the new world that these sites helped create — they are, at the end of the day, the royals of the court. Quality news providers are the supplicants and the serfs.

Video killed the radio star. Broadcast TV stations made the same complaint about cable outlets undercutting them by offering services like CNN. Do they not see the irony in continually complaining that every new medium is “unfair”.

This week, a group of news organizations will begin an effort to win the right to negotiate collectively with the big online platforms and will ask for a limited antitrust exemption from Congress in order to do so.

Unless these companies are able to show that Google or Facebook have treated them unfairly, giving them a lower share of ad revenue displayed on their content than any other content provider, Congress has every right to tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine. An BTW, I make nothing off any adds displayed on the site, so this is not my fight.

It’s an extreme measure with long odds. But the industry considers it worth a shot, given its view that Google and Facebook, regardless of their intentions, are posing a bigger threat economically than President Trump is (so far) with his rhetoric.

How are they threatening you? You are free to show any advertisement you want on your own website. If that website is served by Google or shared on Facebook, traffic will be driven to your site. With their understanding of their customers, Google and Facebook have earned the ability to know which ads will be most effective and therefore make the most money. What gives you the right to their ad intelligence? If you don’t want to use their ad services because you don’t make enough, then come up with your own.

News Corporation said in a statement that it supported the effort to “focus the public and Congress on the anticompetitive behavior of the digital duopoly, especially as it adversely affects the news and information businesses.”

Google and Facebook are not monopolies. There are plenty of other search services, and plenty of other social media sites. Yes, these are by far the gorillas in their markets, and because they are so popular, they will doubtless have good ad intelligence for vastly more users than the smaller platforms. That’s because people chose Google and Facebook on their merits, not because they are anticompetitive.

“If you want a free news model, you will get news,” said David Chavern, the chief executive of the News Media Alliance. “But it will be garbage news — it will be ‘Pope Endorses Trump.’

Whereas the New York Times published the false claim that 17 intelligence organizations agreed that Trump colluded with the Russians, asserted the claim over and over for months, and were then forced to retract this misinformation. It is no wonder that people are getting their news from independent sources on Facebook and Youtube when the legacy media has become completely biased to the point of reporting false information. Readers will decide what is garbage news.

The timing also seems ripe considering the murmuring in the United States about the possibility of regulation for the tech giants, and more direct action against them in Britain and across Europe, where regulators recently socked Google with a huge antitrust fine.

The European antitrust fine came when Google biased its search results in favour of its own ecommerce offerings. The murmuring referred to is another New York Times article bemoaning Google and Facebook as monopolies. The one piece of policy it references is an Obama government report talking about growing income inequality. The other article talks about the European Google case. None of this points to the Republicans regulating Google or Facebook.

The Times is backing the move for what is called an anticompetitive safe haven. In seeking the right to negotiate together, the news providers are trying to avoid the trouble that major book publishing houses got into when they worked with Apple to develop an online book rival to Amazon. Without any government clearance, they ran afoul of antitrust laws.

If that is what this is about–i.e. the legacy media attempt to negotiate a bigger share of ad revenues, and maybe higher prices to advertizers for their premium content, and if Google and Facebook fail to blink, the consortium starts its own competing ad service the way publishers did with Apple–I’m OK with Congress giving them to OK to do so.

The Alliance’s outside counsel, Jonathan Kanter, said he was hopeful that one argument in particular could sway [Congress]: “The product at issue is important from a public policy perspective — we’re not just talking about widgets, we’re talking about news, and news is crucial for a democratic society.”

But we aren’t talking about a monopoly threatening to own the news. We are talking about a bunch of large corporations trying to get more money from other large corporations who are collecting the ad revenues for the medium they want to use. This constant hyperbole is why people call the legacy media “fake news”.


About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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