Carlos Jornet. Panel: Our struggle for fair, reasonable, universal and equitable remuneration


78th General Assembly

October 27 – 30, 2022

Madrid, Spain


Carlos Jornet, Chairman of the Commission on Freedom of the Press and Information

Panel: "Our struggle for fair, reasonable, universal and equitable remuneration"

October 29, 2022

We value the contributions made by Google and Meta to train managers and staff from all areas of newspaper companies - as a way to help them make the necessary transition to a fully digital business model.

The staff of the companies we represent have taken advantage of training and support programs implemented in recent years.

These initiatives of the large platforms have made possible advances in the editorial and advertising digitalization of large, medium and small media.

We also value the agility and penetration offered by Google search engines and social networks so that our content can circulate around the world - and have new life long after the initial publication.

Without these distribution tools, the reach of our messages would be more limited, although in many cases we have doubts about the mechanisms used to position each content in search results or to recommend a certain text or image.

But, at the same time, we are concerned that the expansion of these platforms may end up absorbing a large part of our audience and, fundamentally, of our income - with a special impact on regional markets and small communities.

Therefore, just as we recognize those contributions, we would like to emphasize that without those large global companies competing on terms that leave us at a disadvantage, the volume of our business would not have fallen as quickly and intensely as it did.

They'd tell us that this is an inevitable process, due to technological changes. And that is probably partially true. But there are unilateral decisions taken by these companies that have a significant impact on the advertising market and on the distribution of content.

Meta's recent announcement on the discontinuation of its Instant Articles platform in April 2023 was adopted for strategic reasons of the company, but it will have effects that, although still difficult to assess, can irreversibly damage the economy of thousands of digital sites, and even bring down some of them. Media that - it must be said - bet at the time on an apparent win-win strategy that now leaves them without one of their main sources of traffic and monetization.

And the same concern applies to the warnings that - as it did some time ago in Australia - Meta could block links to news content from Canadian media if the bill advances in that country to force technology companies to share revenues with journalistic portals.

This is despite the fact that the advertising concentration on Meta and other big global players was largely based on data obtained from the user journey, the consumer journey - the knowledge of the news consumption dynamics of the users of our own sites.

As far as Google is concerned, it recently launched products like Showcase and Webstories in some markets - which translate into revenue sharing with the media that generate them.

But companies using those products say that, because of the way they are displayed in some markets, they live more within the Google environment than as traffic generators for the media. That they are insufficient and need to be improved. And that is where we at IAPA can collaborate.

The same happens with content that the platforms generate - not acting as essential facilitators in the Web but somehow turned into publishers - with their own algorithms from data originally produced by journalists and media - and with which they end up retaining the audience within the "walled garden" of those same platforms.

Sports results, currency or stock quotes, weather and key definitions on current affairs are just a few examples of information for which it is no longer necessary to resort to the reference media - because the platforms themselves provide the answer.

For this reason - for some time now - media and associations in Europe, Oceania, Asia and America have been calling for the need to negotiate fair, reasonable, long-term agreements that grow in line with the evolution of the business.

The initial quest for agreements did not make significant progress, so we moved on to the enactment of regulatory frameworks that resulted in much more significant and reasonable contributions. And, in general, without the need for State mediation.

These contributions will be fair and reasonable if they are defined according to the traffic, data and content generated by the media, as well as the business that such traffic, data and content produce for global platforms.

At IAPA, we trust the dialogue, we bet on frank and open negotiations, based on the experience accumulated by Google, by Meta and by the associations and media of other parts of the world in recent years.

As we have been saying since last year, we would like to see concrete proposals emerge from the conversations already underway with Google - and from those we hope to initiate with Meta - that are closer to what happens in markets where there is a law that requires negotiation. And that we can achieve a win-win result for both sides - based on good will and not on impositions.

We would not want the lack of progress in the quest for consensus to leave us with the legal route as the last option. But we do not rule out that alternative if the process continues to drag on. If the figures that are being considered remain only a small percentage of those in force in other countries. And if, additionally, there are countries in the continent where there is still no concrete proposal for a timetable to launch specific programs.

However, we reiterate that the best option is to reach favorable private agreements. Agreements that should be universal, with equity for the different types and sizes of media - and with an economic formula similar to the one in place in those countries with negotiations mandated by law.

We therefore highlight the importance of the negotiations already under way with Google - we urge Meta to follow suit and to maintain the distribution of news content - and we trust that both companies and other technology companies will make the maximum possible effort so that within a reasonable timeframe we will approach - in extension, continuity and volume of economic contributions - the models of collaboration between global platforms and the industry that have been achieved in Australia and in some European markets.

We all have still plenty of work to do, on the part of the media and our association - which brings together more than 1,300 print and digital media from the three Americas.