Unfriend War - Cracks among digital publishers as Schwartz leaves industry body

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 3 April 2024
Credit Junseong Lee via Unsplash

Schwartz Media, the publisher of The Saturday Paper and The Monthly, has left the Digital Publishers Alliance (DPA), representing more than 50 digital publishers, over the industry body's position on Meta's withdrawal from paying for news.

The alliance is opposed to having Meta designated under the News Bargaining Code, which could lead to the social media platform banning news from Australia.

The industry body says this would be devastating to smaller and independent publishers, with referrals drying up entirely from Meta, cutting audience and subsequently advertising sales.

"The only reason [we left] is that Schwartz has a different view on the designation of Meta under the News Bargaining Code to the DPA member group," Schwartz Media CEO Ben Shepherd told AdNews.

A month ago, Meta announced it is ending its deals to pay Australian publishers for their premium content.

The government is assessing whether to designate Meta under the News Media Bargaining Code, which can apply fines of up to 10% of annual turnover for failing to bargain with publishers in good faith

Major publishers, including News Corp, Seven West Media and Nine entertainment, have shared payments reported to be $70 million a year from Meta. They want the federal government to force Meta to the negotiating table.

The smaller digital publishers took out a full page ad in the Australian Financial Review criticising Meta's move to end its publisher partnerships.

"A sustainable, robust and diverse media industry is the basis for a well-functioning democracy and plays a vital role in sharing information and ensuring accountability," the ad said.

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