News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson Says ‘The Fourth Estate Is About To Get A Second Wind’ From Digital Deals; Still ‘Haggling With Facebook’

Jill Goldsmith
·2 min read

News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said Thursday “the terms of trade for content are changing fundamentally,” citing a global news sharing deal the company signed last week with Google.

That deal was announced as Facebook banned news for users and publishers in Australia, to protest a law requiring a more balanced bargaining process for compensation. The law was tweaked, the ban revoked and Facebook announced revenue sharing agreements with three smaller Australian publishers. Thomson said News Corp. “continues to haggle” with the social media giant.

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European governments are also examining how digital giants compensate publishers for news content.

Thomson called the payments “akin to retrans, or retrans 2.0′ — referring to the revenue-enhancing fees multichannel video programming distributors like cable operators pay broadcasters to carry local programming.

He didn’t reveal many more specifics of the deal that will see publications from the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch and the New York Post in the U.S. to The Times and The Sunday Times and The Sun in the UK and a range of platforms in Australia join a product called Google News Showcase. “It is a very thoughtful deal… They are establishing what their content priorities are and we are learning a lot.”

The issues are different across Google, Apple and Facebook. “With Apple, it’s what is the app environment going to be in a few years?” At Facebook, it’s “how does its ‘news tab’ differ from traditional news presentation and building that out with multimedia,” he said, “Each of them is getting onto other devices at different times,”

His advice to publishers vis a vis big tech — a Maya Angelou quote: “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

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