Breaking the news?

Think tank: Institute of Economic Affairs

Author(s): Matthew Lesh

February 24, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at whether digital platforms be required to fund news publishers.

A new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs warns government against intervening in the relationship between digital platforms and legacy media. Breaking the News?, by IEA Head of Public Policy Matthew Lesh, suggests that a policy which mandates tech platforms pay publishers for hosting their content could undermine the evolving tech sector and leave the British public less well-informed. While there is a narrative of digital platforms free riding on journalism, publishers benefit from being hosted by large web platforms, with their increased audiences driving web traffic and subscription revenue towards traditional publications. Internet platforms are now a fixture of the media landscape: forcing them to forfeit part of their revenue will harm both consumers and publishers. When Spain imposed a similar system in 2014, it led to a six per cent decline in traffic, impacting 84 Spanish online newspapers. Introducing a similar policy in Britain, Lesh writes, would likely result in similar outcomes.