By Anne Sofie Christensen-Dalsgaard and Thomas Noppen; Chair and board member, New Media, Denmark
New publishers such as Føljeton, Atlas and Baggrund will suffer if Minister of Culture, Joy Mogensen chooses to listen to the legacy media industry organisation, Danske Medier, with their demand for money in exchange for tech giants sharing our content.
In the optics of the minster, Danish media is presented as a single united entity, where we are all losing money because of the tech platforms. This is not the case.
The centre of the conflict between legacy media and the tech giants is advertising money. There was a time when running a newspaper was a really good business, and the profits from subscriptions, sales from newsstands and advertising could finance salaries and good journalism. Then came the Internet and along with them popular tech platforms, and the expected advertising revenue of the legacy media dwindled. This has led Danske Medier to the conclusion, that tech platforms owe them money.
And honestly – legacy media could probably survive without Facebook and Google. They have large established websites with users going there directly, established email marketing and information on their readers gathered through. Then add the millions of Danish crowns they receive through government subsidies.
Many new publishers do not have this. Government media subsidies are tailored to fit legacy media. And that’s why it’s will be a problem if we cannot share our content freely on the platforms.
Without media subsidies, one has to look for alternatives
Over the years, we have slowly but surely created viable businesses based on good content, innovative business models and smart use of the tech platforms. We have given readers good journalism in new formats, and we have very often done so without receiving government media subsidies.
The criteria for receiving the subsidy makes it almost impossible for new publishers to qualify. Instead, we have made use of the other opportunities provided by the tech platforms to create awareness about our journalism. Either through sharing on Facebook and Twitter, or by optimizing the articles so that they are found in a Google search. In other words, we depend on people being able to meet, see and find alternatives to the legacy coverage, and that opportunity will be limited by the minister’s proposal.
Do not make the same mistake as Spain
If you are in doubt about the consequences, just look at Spain. When Spain introduced a link tax, the Spanish media quickly lost 13% of their readers – and it was primarily the smaller media publishers that had to bear the bulk of the loss. There is therefore evidence that new media will lose money if we cannot make use of tech platforms.
Even though the battle right now is between the giants – the big legacy media publishers and the big tech platforms – it is the small, new publishers that will be the big losers if the law states that Facebook and Google have to pay media to share content. We’re doing just fine, thank you.
The work of the tech giants is certainly not without problems, but for us the platforms are a helping hand in many ways.