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Rupert Murdoch calls on Facebook to pay ‘carriage fees’ for news

News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch has called for Facebook to pay publishers for news content in the same way that TV operators pay broadcasters to air their channels.

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

In a statement, Murdoch said that reputable news outlets are “not being adequately rewarded”, despite “obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook” through their content.

“The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognise ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” said Murdoch.

“Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

The comments come after Facebook announced major plans this month to change its news feed to focus more on “personal connections” in a move that will de-prioritise posts from businesses, brands and media.

Last week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a second “major update”, revealing that Facebook would also roll out an update to make sure that the news users see, “while less overall, is high quality.”

In a post on the social network, Zuckerberg said that he had asked Facebook’s product teams to make sure the service prioritises news that is “trustworthy, informative and local”.

“The hard question we’ve struggled with is how to decide what news sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division,” said Zuckerberg. “We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.”

Murdoch dismissed the “remedial measures” that Facebook and Google have proposed to clamp down on unreliable news as “inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically”.

“I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms,” he said.

The news comes a day after Facebook’s product manager for civic engagement, Camidh Chakrabarti, admitted that Facebook was “far too slow to recognise how bad actors were abusing our platform” in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election.

Murdoch’s News Corp owns a number of news publishers around the world including The Sun and The Times through its News UK division, and titles like The Australian and The Daily Telegraph through its News Corp Australia arm.