Murdoch: Facebook Should Pay for Trusted News

Rupert Murdoch, the News Corp. executive chairman and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman, said that if Facebook is going to start picking "trusted publishers" to promote on its social media site, it should start paying them a fee similar to cable carriage fees as a way to recognize the value of "professional journalism."

Murdoch’s statement on Monday (Jan. 22) came in response to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's announcement that, starting this week,the social media site will start prioritizing news sites. “[T]o make sure the news you see, while less overall, is high quality, I've asked our product teams to make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local,” Zuckerberg said. “And we're starting next week with trusted sources."

Zuckerberg said there was too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world, and that if social media does not become part of the solution, it is part of the problem.

But Murdoch said that was not enough, either for Facebook or Google, which has also taken steps to better monitor its site, he suggested.

“There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism,” said Murdoch, whose properties include Fox News Channel,The Wall Street Journaland theNew York Post. “We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.”

He suggested it was time for social media platforms to put their money where their intentions are.

“The time has come to consider a different route,” Murdoch said. “If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

Media companies have been searching for a news business model for a business being remade by the internet and its ready access to free information.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.