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Tech companies: Indonesia mulls media bill

Yet the draft, seen by Reuters, has to go to the parliament. It calls for an agency to negotiate between media firms and tech companies, and also requires big tech companies to do more to filter content for hoaxes

A draft bill that could compel tech companies like Facebook and Google to negotiate with media firms for fairer revenues is being assessed by Indonesian authorities, media groups said on Tuesday, a move inspired by a ground-breaking new Australian law.

Wenseslaus Manggut, chairman of Indonesia’s cyber media association (AMSI), which was involved in drafting the bill, told Reuters the aim was to ensure fairer revenues for outlets that produce core news and “good journalism”.

By determining how prominently an article appears in a Google search or on a Facebook news feed, algorithms of big tech companies can have a significant impact on income for digital news media.

Yet the draft, seen by Reuters, has to go to the parliament. It calls for an agency to negotiate between media firms and tech companies, and also requires big tech companies to do more to filter content for hoaxes.

“Under the current ecosystem, click bait is more profitable”, Wenseslaus said. “It’s hard to keep the integrity of journalism in this ecosystem”.

For content that drives traffic and advertising to their websites, the Australian law has since March required Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to negotiate with Australian outlets. However, many small Australian publishers have struggled.

The bill would be more advantageous to bigger industry players with political connection, said Ross Tapsell, a media lecturer at the Australian National University.

“Ultimately the concern is the smaller, independent media companies whose mission is public interest journalism may not benefit from this arrangement”, he said.

According to Amir Suherlan, an advertising expert and managing director of the agency Wavemaker Indonesia, about half of Indonesia’s digital advertising revenues go to Facebook and Google.

For a comment on the bill, Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests.

Usman Kansong, from Indonesia’s communications ministry, said the bill could ensure better revenues for “quality” media organisations, but it was unclear if it would be standalone legislation, or incorporated into an existing law.

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