Google To Government: Keep Your Hands Off Journalism

SWAT Team Police Shield

Photo: Wikimedia

Google just published a response to some ideas recently floated by the FTC on how to rescue journalism.Google’s message: “business problems require business solutions rather than regulatory ones.”

The FTC document outlines the crisis facing, in particular, print media, and expresses doubt that any new online business model will emerge that can support original journalism. It then goes on to outline a number of possible policy solutions, including:

  • Reducing search engines’ and aggregators’ fair use rights to news content.
  • Creating an antitrust exemption that would allow newspapers to form a paywall cartel, and to charge search engines and aggregators for access to their content.

Google says either of these proposals would be bad news for consumers. More broadly, Google rejects the underlying premise: that journalism can’t save itself without the government’s help: “The data suggest that publishers have yet to come close to maximizing their ability to attract and keep users engaged with their online offerings.”

Google, of course, has a powerful financial motive for opposing any new regulation of online news consumption. But if there is a serious case in favour of government-supported journalism, we haven’t seen it yet.

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