How can small, independent publishers, providing public interest news to communities up and down the UK, get a fair deal from the world’s very largest tech platforms? Hani Barghouthi shares an important update on PINF’s News For All campaign.
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill was introduced in Parliament last year following years of consultations and recommendations from the sector. The Bill seeks to regulate the UK’s digital economy and level the playing field between Big Tech companies that have near-total control over the digital marketplace and third parties (like news publishers) that interact with them.
PINF launched the News for All campaign to ensure that the new regulatory regime the Bill will introduce can best help indie news providers find sustainability within the staggeringly imbalanced digital ecosystem and continue to serve communities up and down the UK with public interest news that speaks to them, for them and with them.
In short, we need to make Big Tech companies pay for the news they use.
The first month of 2024 has seen the research and advocacy work we carried out for over a year as part of the News for All campaign crystallise in the form of a series of robust debates in the House of Lords.
Since I last updated you in November, we have also taken concrete steps to conduct an innovative experiment to demonstrate the sector's value to a Big Tech platform.
The DMCCB entered Committee Stage in the House of Lords this month with more than a dozen amendments we advised cross-party members of the chamber to introduce.
In brief, these amendments aim to streamline the process of choosing which Big Tech firms can be designated for regulation, the conduct requirements imposed on their commercial dealings with indie publishers, the exemptions to these decisions that they may claim, the stage at which payment for content terms can be imposed and the terms on which they can appeal regulatory decisions.
In every conversation we’ve had with policymakers, we have emphasised the need for expediency, transparency, and the crucial need to limit the avenues for intense tech lobbying of Government officials and allow for maximum transparency in the process.
The next stage in the Bill’s parliamentary journey will determine which changes are adopted into the bill, and we plan to continue engaging policymakers across the political spectrum until the Bill is signed into law to make sure the values guiding our work are best reflected in the legislation.
We’re grateful to the members who have already listened intently and acted on behalf of the indie sector and the communities it serves up and down the UK, and call on the Government to adopt these measures.
We’re also delighted to have secured funding for an in-depth behavioural economic research experiment on UK user habits designed to measure the value of the news sector in general and the indie news sector specifically to Google.
This follows collaborative workshops we held last year between FehrAdvice, the consultancy that will carry out the research, and representatives from various sector bodies who helped guide the research with invaluable contributions.
We hope this will offer tangible insights as the UK moves to regulate its digital markets and ensure that communities are best served by sustainable news produced locally by journalists who are deeply invested in the same communities. More on this soon.
And finally, to help us effectively facilitate our campaigning and our growing network of indie providers all around the country, we are also excited to announced that we have extended our campaign organiser project through to June, and expanded it to include a South West organiser. We are very pleased to welcome Camille Dupont into this role, who joins us from Wiltshire.
We're also recruiting for a new organiser to join the team for Northern Ireland.
That’s it from me! Thank you for tuning in, and keep a lookout for more updates on these projects in the coming weeks, including a nationwide campaign for indie news.
If you have any questions or thoughts on everything advocacy, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com. For any other inquiries, firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to go.
Hani Barghouthi is Campaigns Manager at the Public Interest News Foundation.