European news heads warn EU against Google, Facebook 'fabrications'

Tuesday 4th September, 2018

Accra, Sept. 4 - (DPA/GNA) - The heads of Europe's biggest news agencies have slammed Facebook and Google for "ripping off the news" in a strongly-worded statement urging European lawmakers to press ahead with controversial copyright reforms.

"The internet giants' plundering of the news media's content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy," the statement signed by 18 news agencies said.

The reforms, among other measures, would put more of the burden on internet platforms to check and possibly pay for the news content that they put online.

It has been fiercely opposed by the internet giants, and critics have argued that the measures endanger internet freedoms.

"Facebook and Google have effectively become a duopoly, garnering between them 80 per cent of global internet advertising revenue, excepting China, in 2017," the news agencies' statement said.

The 18 agencies who signed the letter include global news providers such as France's Agence France Presse (AFP), German news agency dpa, Britain's Press Association (PA) and Turkey's Anadolu.

"As paper sales plunge, [press publishers' and news agencies'] only hope lies with the development of internet revenue. Yet they see the big internet players snatch the fruits of their labour for free ... The result has been the impoverishment of an entire industry."

It slammed Facebook and Google for basing their opposition "on a complete fabrication: a supposed threat to people's free access to the internet. Yet this has never been in the slightest doubt."

"What we are really talking about is introducing a fair payment by those who have ripped off the news," the statement said.