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Rupert Murdoch says Facebook should pay for ‘trusted’ news

News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch, seen here in 2017, is urging Facebook to pay "trusted" news organizations for content, in the same way cable TV operators pay for channels
AFP

Washington (AFP) – Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch said Monday that large online platforms like Facebook should pay “trusted” news organizations as part of efforts to improve credibility and stem misinformation.

In a statement issued by his News Corp, the publishing unit which includes newspapers in the United States, Britain and Australia, Murdoch offered up his idea as a way to boost trust in online news and support journalism, using the “carriage fee” model in the cable TV industry.

“Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable,” Murdoch said.

“There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism.”

Murdoch’s comments come days after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled plans for the leading social network to enlist its user base to rank the quality of news sources as part of an effort to curb the spread of false news.

Murdoch said: “We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.”

The 86-year-old media baron, who is executive chairman of News Corp. as well as the media-entertainment group 21st Century Fox, added that “the time has come to consider a different route.”

“If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” he said.

“The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

The remarks also come with most traditional news organizations struggling as readers shift to online news sources, and as digital ad revenues are increasingly going to Facebook and Google because of their dominance in the online ecosystem.

Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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