The “anti-competitive practices” of big tech firms pose an “existential threat” to UK journalism, while the risks from AI-generated misinformation are “greater than ever before”, editors have warned.
A poll by the News Media Association, a trade body for the newspaper industry, found 90 per cent of editors believe Google and Meta pose a threat to the news industry.
The Government has been urged to resist calls to water down the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which will force tech firms to pay news publishers for content used on their platforms.
Some 97 per cent of editors said the risks posed by AI-generated misinformation are “greater than ever before” in the run up to a general election, which is likely to take place next year.
More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of editors said news blackouts enforced by tech platforms weaken democratic engagement by limiting public access to trusted news.
News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith said: “The findings of our survey clearly show the huge level of concern from editors about the impact of the tech platforms’ activities on the sustainability of journalism.”
“The Government must resist pressure from the tech platforms to water down the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill and pass this sensible legislation, which will help to level the playing field field between platforms and publishers and spur innovation and competition across the UK digital economy.”
Katie French, regional group editor at Newsquest, which owns many local newspapers, said: “While tech platforms have greatly enhanced our way of life by allowing unrestricted access to information and increased connection, they have severely impacted the business of news, and news brands such as my own have not been fairly compensated.”
“My titles have more readers than ever before in their history thanks to the global and national audiences our online content is exposed to.”
“However, we receive very little in the way of fair remuneration for the rich and high-quality service our content provides even by hosting our content or signposting readers to our stories through search engines.”
“Our very presence is giving credibility to these platforms that otherwise would be filled with clickbait, nonsense and unregulated information.”
The BBC’s plans to cut local radio provision and boost its online local news were also criticised, with 86 per cent fearing it will “damage independent local journalism in the UK.”
Sun editor Victoria Newton told the NMA’s Journalism Matters parliamentary reception on Tuesday: “Original journalism everywhere should be protected, as should the publishers that spend and invest in journalism.”
“I make a special mention for our vital local newspapers, without whom court cases and local democracy would go unreported.”
“These outlets should also be protected from the BBC’s expansionist activities, which risk driving them out of the market.”
A total of 30 editors responded to the online survey, which was carried out between August and September.