Though the Indian government didn’t commit in parliament on a law mandating news publishers to be paid by big tech companies that earn ad revenues riding their content, it did, however, admit that regular meetings with stakeholders are held to explore whether existing rules need amendments.
“The issue regarding tech giants like Google, Meta etc. to share their advertising revenue with traditional or digital news publishers is a matter of concern as raised by stakeholders, including industry and legal experts. This Ministry regularly interacts with such stakeholders on requirements for new legislations, amendments of the Rules, etc.,” junior Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Friday in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of parliament).
The Minister was replying to a series of queries raised by two parliamentarians — one from his own BJP, Sushil Modi — whether the government was looking to make big tech majors like Google, Meta, Microsoft, etc., pay Indian newspapers and digital news publishers a share of revenue for using their original content and whether it was true that the news publishers have no negotiating leverage that needs to be tackled legislatively.
Chandrasekhar also said that his ministry was aware of media reports, which stated that the Australian Parliament in February 2021 had enacted a law called ‘the News Media and Digital Platform Mandatory Bargaining Code’, requiring global digital companies to pay for local news contents.
Meanwhile, earlier mid-July, IANS had reported, quoting The Times of India, that the government was planning to make big tech companies pay publishers for using their content on their respective platforms, as other countries aim to create a revenue-sharing bridge between internet companies and digital news publishers.
“The market power on digital advertising that is currently being exercised by the Big Tech majors, which places Indian media companies at a position of disadvantage, is an issue that is seriously being examined in the context of new legislations and rules,” the IANS news report had stated, quoting The Times of India.
Google has already signed deals to pay more than 300 publishers in Germany, France and other EU countries for using their content on its platform.
The Canadian government also moved a law early this year to bring about fairness in revenue sharing between digital news publishers and intermediary platforms.
According to the Indian Newspapers Society (INS), media houses were being kept in the dark on the total advertising revenue collected by Google and what percentage of the advertising revenue was being transferred to media organisations.
The News Broadcasters Association too had earlier written to Google India stating revenue sharing modalities ought to be discussed with its member-companies. The outcome of that letter is not known.