Negotiating with technology firms over news content is preferable to enacting legislation, given the nation’s size, as it would enable local media to reach a larger audience, a panel of experts said yesterday.
Following Australia’s enactment earlier this month of the News Media Bargaining Code requiring large tech firms to pay local news publishers for content reproduced or linked on their platforms, the Taiwan People’s Party think tank convened a forum to debate Taiwan’s approach.
Nations worldwide are wary of the tech giants, said Wu Kuo-wei (吳國維), a former board member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Taiwan’s advertising volume on all media amounts to NT$76.1 billion (US$2.7 billion), while online media accounts for NT$45 billion, he said.
Google and Facebook collect about 70 percent of that revenue, he added.
No one opposes paying for content, but no one thinks that links should be subject to a fee, Wu said, adding that Taiwan should adopt any decision made by the WTO, if it makes one, and approach the matter with the public interest in mind.
Taiwanese media should keep communication channels open with Google and Facebook, as their translation assistance has increased traffic for local media, Wu said.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, countless international news outlets have utilized local reports, he said, adding that it is a win-win situation that Taiwan should not isolate itself from.
Former National Communications Commission official Jason Ho (何吉森) said that the agency does not have jurisdiction over print and digital media, and is primarily concerned with regulating rather than promoting the industry.
If Taiwan passed a law similar to Australia’s, it would not have many bargaining chips at its disposal and would risk destroying the nation’s entire media ecosystem, Ho added.
The Reporter investigative reporter Yan Wen-ting (嚴文廷) said that Taiwan should negotiate rather than legislate, otherwise large foreign companies could use their resources to avoid taxation.
The quality of the nation’s news media has been declining due to its rapid pace and lack of investment, he said.
Yan said if an effective way to charge for content is created, he hopes it would be directly reflected in salaries, as lining executives’ pockets would do nothing to change the “status quo.”
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