What Big Tech should do about about media challenge

22 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
What Big Tech should do about about media challenge ‘Publishers are in control’, ‘Publishers Decide’: these are just some of the words used by the tech giant, Google, to defend itself against media companies. Photo: Reuters

eBusiness Weekly

“Publishers are in control”, “Publishers Decide”: these are just some of the words used by Google to defend itself against media companies.

The tech company was defending itself at an enquiry conducted by the Competition Commission with the purpose of determining if there are any market features that may be adversely affecting competition or undermining the purposes of the Competition Act, and to comprehensively remedy those features.

One sentence stands out for me: “Google is not a news aggregator”.

As I was going through the Google presentation, I could not help but think that this is part of the reason why the media industry is in trouble.

Technology companies do not understand the damage they have caused.

Whether by default or design, Big Tech has negatively impacted the media industry.

If the response by Google is anything to go by, we are not closer to a solution.

To resolve the challenges faced by media companies, Big Tech needs to acknowledge the damage partly caused by technology giants. It is possible that tech giants had no intention of creating challenges for media entities.

However, their creations have contributed to current challenges.

Acknowledging the tech impact on media is the first step towards preserving the fourth estate.

The second step should be a technology solution to the media industry. Big tech companies should come together to create neutral platforms that can be used by all media entities.

Such a platform should be a non-profit entity, modelled along the same principles as the Wikipedia, Mozilla Foundation and other technology entities that are designed to benefit society.

Media entities should not have to turn themselves into technology entities to save themselves. This is one way that Big Tech can pay it forward.

In the same way that Elon Musk advocated for a non-profit OpenAI entity, the tech industry should collaborate around the creation of an infrastructure that will serve society.

Media entities, on the other hand, should not fold their hands and expect tech companies to be providers of their only salvation. Media companies ought to appoint tech leaders on their boards and at executive level.

Media entities need tech leaders with an understanding of the media industry. Such an intervention is required if the media industry is to win the battle against big tech.

Media entities also need to build their own platforms. To do so they need tech leaders to envision media entities that are tech strong.

Lastly, innovation will be the ultimate saviour of the media industry. Interventions by the Competition Commission will not be sufficient to soften the blow.

To avoid punishment, tech companies will simply change their business and modus operandi as they have in the past.

Media entities need new business models that may require philanthropists coming on-board to be the key funders of the sector. The value of media as a sector requires cool heads across sectors to come up with solutions that will enable the advancement of society.

The tech industry needs to form part of the solution by first acknowledging harm and thereafter contribute towards the development of a solution.

In the absence of a strong media sector, the tech industry suffers as well as everyone else – IOL

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