Media firms on both Left and Right protest ‘raw power’ of social media ‘cartel’

by WorldTribune Staff, February 27, 2018

Google and Facebook are at the head of a “Digital Cartel” that is threatening the survival of independent news outlets, leaders of both conservative- and liberal-leaning media firms say.

Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of the conservative, wrote on Feb. 26 that WND faces a severe financial crisis due in large part to the “predatory practices of what I call the ‘Digital Cartel’ – chiefly Google and Facebook – who have managed to all but destroy digital advertising for independent news organizations like WND.”

While alternative conservative news platforms are rarely financed to the extent that they can adapt to the business practices of social media powerhouses, the liberal media are also feeling the pain.

In a keynote address to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 26, CNN President Jeff Zucker said that “Everyone is looking at whether these combinations of AT&T and Time Warner or Fox and Disney pass government approval and muster, the fact is nobody for some reason is looking at these monopolies that are Google and Facebook. That’s where the government should be looking, and helping to make sure everyone else survives. I think that’s probably the biggest issue facing the growth of journalism in the years ahead.”

Media mogul Tina Brown said in a November 2017 interview with Recode: “I am very angry and upset about the way advertising revenue has been essentially pirated by the Facebook-Google world, without nearly enough giveback – no giveback, really – to the people who create those brilliant pieces that are posted all over their platforms. It’s high time they gave back to journalism.”

Google and Facebook in 2017 received 84 percent of all digital ad dollars and accounted for all Internet advertising growth for the year.

That dominance “is exceedingly bad news for the balance of the digital publisher ecosystem,” the investment management firm GroupM said.

Farah noted that “right now we have to contend with Google and Facebook and Twitter and Amazon and the rest of the Digital Cartel. We’re literally at their mercy – their changing rules designed to keep us on an uneven playing field.”

In his Barcelona speech, CNN’s Zucker said: “In a Google and Facebook world, monetization of digital and mobile continues to be more difficult than we would have expected or liked. I think we need help from the advertising world and from the technology world to find new ways to monetize digital content, otherwise good journalism will go away.”

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