Facebook ‘must pay’ for ‘feasting’ on TV news, says Snow

Facebook “feasts” on TV channels’ content but fails to pay for the privilege, a situation that must change if professional journalism is to have a future, according to Channel 4 new presenter Jon Snow, delivering the annual McTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

Jon Snow

Jon Snow

“We have to look at the new players in this digital age. Facebook needs to pay more taxes; Google needs to pay more taxes, the rest too. The digital media, the duopolies, have to pay more to carry professional journalism,” Snow told attendees in Edinburgh.

“It cannot be beyond the bounds of human understanding to come up with a way of ensuring that these mega-entities have to pay to play.”

Snow said that Facebook “feasts on our products and pays all but nothing for them”, a situation that “cannot last” if professional journalism is to be preserved. He called on governments and the EU to find way to force internet giants to pay for the content that helped drive usage of their platforms.

In a wide-ranging lecture focusing on the disengagement between media organisations and wider society, and the growing social divide exemplified by news coverage of the Grenfell Tower disaster, Snow said there was a danger that the “monopoly over the world’s information” held by Google and Facebook presented a massive challenge, particularly given that both organisations took “so little responsibility” for what is disseminated on their platforms.

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