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  • Writer's pictureHani Barghouthi

How do we ensure independent publishers get what they deserve from Big Tech legislation?

As the Public Bill Committee prepares its report on the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, PINF Campaigns Manager Hani Barghouthi shares some updates on our advocacy through the News for All campaign, designed to support independent news publishers and the communities they serve.

Last year, PINF launched the News for All campaign because we believe Government and Parliament can use their powers to support independent news publishers and the communities they serve around the UK.

Since we last updated you in June, we have been busy briefing policymakers in the Government and both Houses in Parliament while continuing to grow our team of regional and national campaign organisers and, through them, our network of independent news publishers.

This week, we joined a sector-wide panel of speakers at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Media in Westminster to discuss the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.

During the event, we lent support to the draft bill, currently at the Public Bill Committee stage in the House of Commons, stressing the need for measures that will allow independent news publishers up and down the UK to benefit from regulatory decisions in the digital marketplace.

The trade publication Press Gazette covered our participation in this July 5 story, detailing the discussion that took place and quoting PINF Executive Director Jonathan Heawood’s remarks about the independent sector:

“The content that small independent newsrooms publish, [Heawood] said, is “what platforms thrive on – that they can serve up hyper-relevant content to users around the world.
‘So individually, those providers perhaps can’t make a very powerful argument for why they deserve thousands and thousands of pounds – but collectively, I think they can make a very powerful argument for why they actually deserve millions of pounds.’
He added one of the things that PINF liked about the DMCC legislation ‘is that it allows for revenue and non-revenue negotiations and allows for collective bargaining. So for the first time those small providers can get together and be more than the sum of their parts and actually get what we think they deserve.’
Heawood said that, at present, ‘we can’t establish what a fair value exchange would be because the data is locked up in the black boxes of the big tech companies’.”

The quoted section highlights some of the proposals we made, along with IMPRESS, in our detailed submissions to the DMCCB’s Public Bill Committee in the Commons and the Communications and Digital Select Committee in the House of Lords.

In our evidence, we commended the meaningful investigative powers the Bill grants the Digital Markets Unit and the flexible, bespoke approach it takes to regulating the digital marketplace, in addition to introducing a final offer mechanism for publisher-platform bargaining and the consideration given to non-payment terms including data-sharing and algorithm notification in addition to routes for payment to publishers.

We recommended introducing a different oversight mechanism over the work of the Digital Markets unit, redirecting powers from the Secretary of State, allowing for earlier introduction of the final offer mechanism, and limiting the opportunities given to the dominant tech companies to obstruct implementation.

We also called on the Government to confirm that independent publishers will be able enter collective bargaining for compensation and data-sharing with tech platforms.

On the campaigning front, we engaged three more Campaign Organisers to help us in our outreach to independent news publishers in the UK’s nations and three regions in England. Those are Rowan Gavin, joining us from the South of England, and Una Murphy and Brian Pelan, who will be our joint organisers for Northern Ireland. We now have a complete set of organisers in the nations and regions of the UK.

If you’re an independent news publisher, expect an email from our organisers soon asking for your insights on the campaign, and seeing if you’d like to get involved! Get in touch with if you’d like to join or have any questions.

We’re also continuing our work with Harrison Agency to develop a PR campaign toolkit that news publishers and organisations like ours that support them can use to communicate the value of independent news to our respective audiences, whether they’re readers and viewers or funders and policymakers.

Next week, we’re off to South Africa to attend the ‘Big Tech and Journalism - Building a Sustainable Future in the Global South’ conference at the University of Pretoria, where we are looking forward to discussing developments in the relationship between big tech and journalism with participants from 25 countries.

Watch this space for more News for All updates, and don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list!


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