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Broadcasters Not Getting Fair Compensation from Google, Facebook, Study Finds

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(Image credit: Google)

WASHINGTON—Broadcasters are being short changed for their local news content from two of the biggest technology companies, Google and Facebook, according to a new study from BIA Advisory Services. The amount of money that broadcasters lose under these current conditions approaches $2 billion annually.

BIA’s study, “The Economic Impact of Big Tech Platforms on the Viability of Local Broadcast News,” which was commissioned by NAB, found that because large technology platforms exercise their substantial market power, broadcasters are not receiving fair compensation for their content. BIA said that these tech platforms use their market power to advance their own growth at the detriment of local broadcasters, which can put a strain on the viability of local news.

The study focused on Google Search and Facebook News Feed. Through interviews with broadcast group executives and modeling of high economic impact practices, the study found that local broadcasters lose $1.873 billion annually by supplying their content to these platforms.

In addition, the study concluded that no technology platform allows broadcasters to earn equitable revenue based on current practices. It said that algorithms do not properly weigh local broadcast news, “which intentionally and unfairly undervalues the broadcast content in search queries.” The study also noted that broadcast content and local news are often included in search returns and news feeds alongside questionable sources and disinformation, which could potentially confuse users and instill distrust.

“Even though we focused our quantitative analysis on Google and Facebook, the market power of other platforms and services, such as Amazon and Apple, were cited as increasingly undermining the viability of local news media,” said Rick Ducey, managing director at BIA Advisory Services. “The growth of these platforms present the potential for substantial future harm to the industry if not constrained by government action.”

NAB has been pushing for such government action against major tech platforms, saying it puts them at a disadvantage. Last fall, Congress concluded an investigation that big tech can in fact harm the news industry and some legislation is reportedly in the works to help support smaller broadcasters against the likes of major tech companies.

“Radio and television broadcasters play a vital role in providing Americans with valuable news and information, shining a light on the events shaping their communities,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Unfortunately, this study makes clear that the competitive advantage of a handful of big tech platforms prevents broadcasters from recouping their substantial investment in local news, putting local journalism at risk. Preserving quality, trusted journalism in communities will require policies that ensure broadcasters are fairly and justly compensated for their valuable content.”

Local broadcasters are expected to be on Capitol Hill this week as part of NAB’s annual State Leadership Conference to advocate for issues affecting the broadcast industry. For more information, visit NAB’s website