Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnership, announced this week that the company would be launching a paywalled news subscription service in efforts to appease publishers that are unhappy with the Facebook and Google duopoly on advertising.
TheStreet.com reports that just over a week after news publishers requested an anti-trust exemption from Congress in order to negotiate as a group with platforms such as Facebook and Google, Facebook has announced a subscription-based news feature that will begin testing some time in October. Campbell Brown, the head of news partnership at Facebook, said that the feature would be built around Facebook’s Instant Articles feature which aggregates content from multiple publishers, displaying stories to readers based on their interests and Facebook activity.
Facebook’s new service will steer readers towards the homepage of publishers taking part in the new service, as well as initiating a paywall that would require readers to purchase a subscription to the platform once they had accessed 10 or more articles. Speaking at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, Brown discussed Facebook’s new plans saying, “One of the things we heard in our initial meetings from many newspapers and digital publishers is that ‘we want a subscription product — we want to be able to see a paywall in Facebook,'” she continued to say, “And that is something we’re doing now. We are launching a subscription product.”
The paywall will reportedly be based on premium and metered plans, meaning there will be multiple subscription options for users to choose from. The new service is reportedly aimed at addressing the issues that traditional publications had with Facebook and Google, resulting in the group seeking an anti-trust exemption from Congress in order negotiate with the companies as a group. David Chavern, president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, which represents approximately 2,000 publishers of print and online media, wrote in a July 10th column, “The problem is that today’s internet distribution systems distort the flow of economic value derived from good reporting.” He continued to say, “They expect an economically squeezed news industry to do that costly work for them. The only way publishers can address this inexorable threat is by banding together.”
Brown further discussed Facebook’s new project saying, “Our preference is always going to be to work in partnership with publishers, and not be the opponent in this effort,” she said. “Having come from this world, they’re really competitive with each other and in the problems we’re facing, there’s a lot of overlap. Working on this collaboratively and having seen publishers come together on this is not necessarily a bad thing.”