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Facebook and Google plan to start paying publishers. That's the wrong solution to a much bigger problem in media.

Facebook and Google plan to start paying publishers. That's the wrong solution to a much bigger problem in media.


Carsten Koall/Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images




Facebook started paying publishers in the UK this month with the launch of its "News Tab."




Similarly, Google has said it plans to pay $1 billion to publishers over the next three years.




Tech columnist Jason Aten argues this doesn't solve the real problem of declining ad revenue in media — the business model is wrong.




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Over the past year, Facebook and Google have both been working on deals with publishers across the globe to pay for the content shared on their respective platforms. On the surface, that certainly seems like a fair thing to do.Facebook started paying publishers in the UK this month with the launch of its "News Tab" there. The company previously launched a test of the feature in the US, and said at the time it would be paying participating publishers.Google, meanwhile, has said it plans to pay $1 billion to publishers over the next three years. It signed deals last year with Le Monde and Le Figaro in France and has been rolling out Google News Showcase, which allows publishing partners to highlight content and receive a royalty.But the two tech giants aren't paying for content out of the goodness of their hearts. Both companies are facing extraordinary pressure from lawmakers and regulators in the United States and elsewhere. The European Union passed copyright laws that require digital ad proceeds to be split with the publications, and even individual creators. In Australia, the government is finalizing a "mandatory code" that would require the tech giants to negotiate with publishers over how much they should pay to display snippets of content from those sites.
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