Taiwan could soon introduce regulations resembling Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code that would require large digital platforms to pay local news media for the content made available on their platforms, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said on Wednesday, after hosting a meeting with media experts and government representatives.
“We normally would not publicly disclose matters discussed in internal meetings, but this is an important public issue,” NCC Vice Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said, after the agency issued a news release about Tuesday’s meeting.
Many countries have antitrust laws or other measures to regulate large digital platforms, Wong said.
The EU enacted its Digital Markets Act to ensure a competitive digital service market, while South Korea’s Telecommunications Business Act prohibits large digital platforms from dictating the payment options people use to make in-app purchases, he said.
A planned digital development ministry, which is to be established next year, would oversee such issues, Wong said, adding that the NCC and the Fair-Trade Commission would help the planned ministry to formulate regulations.
Participants in Tuesday’s meeting agreed that they should work together to ensure that local news media obtain fair compensation for their content, the NCC said.
National Chung Cheng University journalism professor Hu Yuan-hui (胡元輝) said that Taiwan’s media should take action to safeguard their survival.
The main issue is what percentage of the fees collected from large digital platforms would go to funding the production of quality news content, he said, adding that the fees should go into an independent fund.
The government should first investigate the amount of advertising revenue that Taiwanese news media have lost to large digital platforms and whether the value of original content has diminished through exposure on the platforms, Reporter Foundation executive director Ho Rong-shin (何榮幸) said.
A quantitative and qualitative assessment would allow the government to accurately gauge the effect of large digital platforms on Taiwan as a democratic nation, he added.
Christy Chiang (江雅綺), an associate professor in National Taipei University of Technology’s Graduate Institute of Intellectual Property, said that the EU, the US and Australia have models that tackle the issue from the perspective of market competition.
To address problems in those models, the government could set up an independent fund or consider other ways to appropriate the collected fees, she said.
News media should change their business models so that they become profitable in the digital age, National Chung Cheng University economics professor Chen Ho-chyuan (陳和全) said.
“They should also collectively bargain for a fair distribution of the profits between them and the platforms,” he said.
Taipei Newspaper Association chairman Chen Kuo-wei (陳國瑋) represented Taiwan’s four major newspaper groups at the meeting.
The rights of news media should be protected, given that these cross-national platforms design algorithms that dictate the news that people see and hear, he said.
“Digital capitalism has evolved into digital imperialism. If the problems remain unresolved, Taiwan will become a ‘digital colony’ of these large platforms,” he said.
The government should assist news media in negotiating with these platforms so that there are open and transparent rules, regardless of whether regulations are enacted to protect local news media, he added.
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