The global traditional media has been dealt a crippling economic blow because today the internet makes possible universal access to news, which has induced a bulk of the new generation to acquire it online. The Covid-19 pandemic has made a bad situation worse, and newspapers have experienced decreasing circulation and readership, resulting in decreased revenue, especially from advertisements. But traditional media has not shirked from doing its duty, gathering news from the frontline, often at great personal risk to journalists. This is what makes so blatantly unfair the practice adopted by social media platforms like Google and Facebook to reproduce news and information garnered by journalists of the traditional media, without sharing revenue with the media houses and occasionally not even acknowledging the source! While countries in Europe had attempted to try and make the social media giants pay traditional media organizations for contents that had been taken from them, their success had been not very tangible. However, it is only after the Australian Government, prompted by media moguls like Rupert Murdoch, decided to take the bull by the horn, some sort of resolution to a blatantly unfair practice seems to be looming on the horizon. It may be noted that sometime back the Australian Government had put up a draft revenue sharing legislation and Facebook had retaliated by imposing a ban on that country, causing enormous inconvenience to users of social media platforms.
With the Australian Government sticking to its guns and Facebook realizing that it would irrevocably lose out to competitors if they persisted with the ban, the social media giant has been coerced into striking a deal with the Government on the proposed legislations that would make the digital platforms pay for reproduced journalistic pieces. Facebook has announced that it was lifting the ban even as it entered into negotiations with the contending parties on a revenue sharing code that would include even small and local news publishers. Facebook’s turnaround has been hailed across the world as a major victory in Australia’s efforts to make two major gateways to the internet, Google and Facebook, pay for the journalism that they use, and has positive ramifications for the global traditional media, including developing countries. Google also had threatened to remove its search functions from Australia because of the proposed law, but like Facebook has been forced into a climbdown. Whatever code on revenue sharing evolves through the negotiations, it will provide a benchmark to the rest of the world to evolve their own and get the social media giants to make amends for their unfair practices. It may be noted that the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), which represents media houses in the country, has written to technology giant Google to increase publisher share of its advertisement revenue to 85% and is awaiting a response.