Former deputy minister urges Putrajaya to make Google, Facebook compensate local media

Liew Chin Tong speaks to reporters in Putrajaya April 24, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Liew Chin Tong speaks to reporters in Putrajaya April 24, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The federal government should emulate Australia in compelling Big Tech firms such as Google and Facebook to share their advertising revenue with local media companies for content from which they profit, said Senator Liew Chin Tong.

The DAP leader made the suggestion in a Facebook post that touched on The Edge Media Group’s decision to end one of its newspapers, The Edge Financial Daily, due to the disruption from online news as well as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Liew said media outlets were a vital part of society as they were responsible for providing news coverage as well as analyses that shape public opinion.

“As a side note, it is interesting that Australia has decided to compel Google and Facebook to pay media outlets for news content. That is something Malaysia should consider.

“We should make Google and Facebook pay so that independent media outlets (not paid for by the public purse or big commercial interests) can produce great content for the society with sustained sources of income,” Liew said.

The senator added that making the tech giants compensate media firms would ensure new frontiers for discourse and the exchange of ideas will keep emerging, ultimately empowering Malaysians as a whole.

The Edge Financial Daily ceased its print edition yesterday to go completely digital after its publisher said it could no longer cope with the “double onslaught” of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift towards online media.

Yesterday, reports emerged that Australia was moving to compel both Google and Facebook to share their advertising revenue with Australian media outlets whose content the two firms display directly or via search results.

Australia took the unprecedented step after negotiations for a voluntary revenue sharing scheme stalled.

The dispute has gone on for years, with media firms regularly complaining that Google and Facebook were earning billions of dollars from their content while simultaneously depriving them of direct advertising revenue.

News outlets worldwide are also suffering as companies have stopped or sharply decreased their advertising spending as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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