Rupert Murdoch: Facebook Should Pay a Cable-Like ‘Carriage Fee’ to Publishers

Social network’s algorithms have “popularized scurrilous news sources,” News Corp CEO says

Rupert Murdoch has taken notice of Facebook’s recent publisher update — and he wants the social network to put its money where its mouth is, assuming it cares about news as much as it says it does.

“If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” said Murdoch in a statement. “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.

Paying publishers would have a negligible impact on Facebook’s bottom line, “but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists,” added Murdoch.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company would pull back on publisher content, going from about 5 percent to 4 percent of posts on its News Feed. Zuckerberg also said the company will shift to having its users determine which news outlets are “trustworthy” — leading to better placement in the News Feed.

“We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that’s not something we’re comfortable with. We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem,” said Zuckerberg. “Or we could ask you — the community — and have your feedback determine the ranking. We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.”

This wasn’t enough for Murdoch. The News Corp. CEO said Facebook and Google have long “popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable.” Instead, turning to a model similar to pay-TV would bolster the media world, according to Murdoch.

“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.

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