As the pending $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner hangs in the balance, CNN President Jeff Zucker thinks tech giants Google and Facebook should face more scrutiny for their domination of online advertising.
While speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Monday, Zucker said the survival of journalism depends on the government potentially weighing in on the internet duopoly. Facebook and Google pull in 85 percent of all new online ads.
“Everyone is looking at whether these combinations of AT&T and Time Warner or Fox and Disney pass government approval and muster, the fact is nobody for some reason is looking at the monopolies that are Google and Facebook,” said Zucker. “That’s where the government should be looking, and helping to make sure everyone else survives. I think that’s probably the biggest issue facing the growth of journalism in the years ahead.”
Zucker’s comments come as the Justice Department is suing to block AT&T’s acquisition of CNN parent company Time Warner. Last week, a federal judge denied AT&T’s request to view any correspondence between the Trump White House and DoJ. The telecom behemoth has pointed to the president’s distaste for CNN as a reason for the Justice Department’s lawsuit.
In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election, Facebook has been grappling with its approach to publisher content. The social network announced in January it would shift towards prioritizing local news in its News Feed — something that could cut traffic to major outlets like CNN. The CNN head honcho added he is looking to ad and technology businesses to lend a hand in protecting “good journalism.”
“There’s no question in a Google and Facebook world, monetization of content is important,” added Zucker. “We are doing well. But we need help from the advertising and technology worlds, otherwise good journalism will go away. That’ll be bad for the U.S. and for the rest of the world.”