Jorge Canahuati. Remark for the panel on IAPA's Position with media platforms


78th General Assembly

October 27 – 30, 2022

Madrid, Spain


IAPA' s President Jorge Canahuati

Madrid, Spain

October 29, 2022

Our work on the relationship between media and digital platforms started years ago. However, it became more intense since October 2018 when we created and adopted the "Salta Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age." We said then in Principle 12: "Actors in the digital ecosystem must strike an appropriate balance between freedom of expression, copyright and intellectual property - as well as with respect to the benefits that may be generated by the content in such ecosystem. They must also avoid abusive practices that may affect competition, innovation and the free flow of information."

That principle was visionary for the fight we are now waging. It even predated the European Commission's 2019 directive on copyright.

Another important milestone was the petition we signed on September 21, 2021, together with some twenty global and regional media organizations. We demanded the platforms that the media should receive a fair, reasonable and universal remuneration for the content the platforms distribute and monetize as part of their digital advertising strategy - as well as for the direct and indirect benefits they obtain from those contents.

Since then, we have been engaged in this struggle that has to do with the sustainability of the media and their financial health - so that they can remain independent.

I would like to highlight some of the concepts I spoke about this year at the meeting in Punta del Este, convened by UNESCO on May 3 - World Press Freedom Day.

While we recognize in our industry that the economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, has to do with the prolonged process of digital transformation, the biggest problem we face has to do with the migration of advertising revenues that were absorbed by the large digital platforms.

In this regard, the UNESCO Windhoek + 30 Declaration, expresses that "economic sustainability" is "a key prerequisite for their independence" and calls on digital companies to support the media through "inclusive partnership" agreements and "financial measures."

The issue of media sustainability and independence was also addressed by the European Parliament in early September with the new "European Freedom of the Media Act" which, in short, calls on the 27 nations to strengthen the editorial freedom of media companies and protect them from unjustified, disproportionate and discriminatory national measures.

At IAPA we believe that the path can be through direct agreements between the platforms and the media - recognizing the copyright of content creators and producers. Or through the adoption of public policies such as the Australian Media and Digital Platforms Negotiation Code - approved in February 2021. With this Code, the media get more benefits from the platforms than they did before.

We are also watching for similar legislation in Canada and the US that will allow media to negotiate with platforms - which we will hear about this afternoon.

We will also hear today that Google has media support programs. In a number of countries, they are paying licensing fees for the use of content through Showcase and other initiatives such as Webstories. However - as we have pointed out to Google - we believe these programs are not enough and need to be stepped up.

As our assemblies have shown, we will always be open to and insist on mechanisms of dialogue and negotiation with the platforms - despite the fact that we sometimes feel we are in an unequal and disproportionate struggle considering the size and strength of these companies.

At IAPA we maintain that the sustainability of journalism - a public good as UNESCO now defines it - is an asset of the democratic state, a responsibility that no government can evade, especially when we see how the sands of information deserts are advancing in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Argentina or Colombia.

Beyond supporting initiatives on the remuneration of content to those who produce and create it, for the past three years IAPA has also been insisting that governments should adopt public policies that guarantee the survival of journalism. They must create direct tax incentives for the production of journalism; incentives for audiences to subscribe and support journalism or for advertisers to place advertising in the media; soft credits to support the opening of new media or for the adoption and purchase of new technologies; and public policies to motivate donors, audiences and advertisers.

We demand that these public policies be transparent, non-discriminatory and not affect the editorial independence of the media. In the Americas we have the old practice of discriminatory use of official advertising - so we must move away from those vices and sins if we want to build independent and robust media.

We believe that the media, the platforms, the governments, the audiences, everyone... we all have the responsibility to ensure the viability and permanence of independent journalism.

Thank you very much.