Taipei Newspaper Association wants people to pay for news: urges government to help with relevant legislation

The Taipei Newspaper Association called on the government to help change consumers perception that news should be free, saying that the rise of digital media has affected newspaper business operations.

The call was made at a symposium titled “Digital Platforms, Content Websites and Online Advertising Industry Ecology and Disputes,” held by the Fair Trade Commission today, April 12.

The symposium was attended by representatives from print newspapers, magazine publishers, online media, and a number of experts and scholars in the field.

The participants contacted by Taiwan English News did not immediately respond if there were any participants from the wood-pulp-paper industry.

The Taipei Newspaper Association Secretary-General, Chen Zhiguang (陳志光), who also serves as deputy general manager of Want Want Media Group’s Commercial Times, said that multinational digital platforms affect newspaper business operations, and readers are accustomed to being provided with free news. This situation should be changed, and the government can take an active role in guiding the shift.

Chen said that Taiwan should look to, and keep up with, the discussion on legislation implemented in Australia in the form of the “News Media and Digital Platform Mandatory Bargaining Law,” and actively respond to the monopoly of large-scale technology platforms as an influence on newspaper business operations.

The Taipei Newspaper Association released a statement saying that for the past 20 years, Facebook and Google have eaten news media free lunches, and this has seriously affected the normal development of the media industry. The six key statements read as follows:

1. To reverse the public’s misconception that news content should be read for free, so that media operations can get back on track. The Australian model sets a benchmark, and the Taiwanese government should actively formulate a response policy to assist local journalists in negotiations and keep up with the new industry practice of “pay for news” as soon as possible.

2. Regarding anti-monopoly issues, Taiwan should try to join the cohesive cross-border negotiation mechanism, and grasp the rapidly developing technological anti-monopoly legislation in the United States, Britain, Canada, and the European Union.

3. We should not underestimate ourselves. The population of Taiwan is similar to that of Australia, and the power of Internet technology is far above Australia. The Australian government took the lead in legislation and achieved a leading position in the global anti-technology monopoly trend. Countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and India followed suit immediately, and Taiwan should not be absent.

4. As the most important news media production base in the Chinese-language world, Taiwan has considerable bargaining power with Google and Facebook. Therefore, it must “conduct collective bargaining with government support:” the negotiation tactics of the governments of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom; that is, the collective voice of the association of relevant news media.

5. In addition to the extremely active traditional news media in Taiwan, emerging Internet media have also sprung up, essentially becoming the Chinese media center with the largest output and quality outside of China. If it can be inspired by the “Australian Model” to promote the “Taiwan Model” legislation, it can ensure the sustainable development of domestic traditional media.

6. Australia was originally a relatively fringe English media market, but the government and industry players can find leverage to grasp the opportunities for changes in the online industry, gain a global voice, and support the local industry towards the next online generation. Australia has a forward-looking vision. Policy strategies and tactics are worth learning by Taiwan.

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