Newspapers want the UK government to curb Google and Facebook's power

Newspaper publishers, including The Guardian Media Group and News UK, have called on the government to help curb the power of online giants like Facebook and Google.

Their trade body, the News Media Association (NMA), briefed culture ministers including Matthew Hancock about its concerns on Wednesday, arguing that the “digital news value chain” is “wildly out of step with publishers.”

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

The NMA said in a statement that newspaper publishers benefit from working with the likes of Facebook and Google, not least in terms of accessing new audiences, but the situation is far from “win-win.”

It added that “significant value is being captured by companies who do not invest in original journalism at the expense of those who do.”

The group explained: “The costs of producing quality journalism are substantial and remain with news publishers. It is becoming increasingly difficult to meet these costs, partly because of the lower value of digital advertising compared to print, but also because of the diversion of advertising spend from publishers towards aggregators.”

The briefing follows complaints from some publishers about the impact of Facebook and Google on advertising revenue. Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger believes that the companies sucked up nearly £20 million ($27 million) of the newspaper’s digital advertising income last year.

The NMA also raised concerns about ad blocking and said the UK government and regulators must “ensure that online platforms operate within a framework that is fair, non-abusive and respectful of media plurality.”

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