A coalition of Danish media companies are out with an open letter trying to yet again put pressure on Danish parliament to regulate Big Tech.
The rationale seems to be that the timing couldn’t be better; the role of Big Tech – especially social media – in recent US events these last few weeks have highlighted that we do indeed have a problem, we need to pay attention to and figure out to do with.
But does it really relate to Danish media subsidy policy? Now that’s a different discussion. So let’s try to break that discussion down a bit.
The first argument, media companies make, is that tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter offers publicity to all kinds of fringe arguments. While that is undoubtedly true, let’s not forget that quite a lot of the content that gets shared actually come from media who have made it part of their core strategy to cater to the clickbait SoMe-mob, if we can call it that.
Media companies are not entirely without a responsibility of their own here, IMHO. It would be nice of them to at least own up to some of it.
Now, a lot of the questionable content comes from alternative news sources whose whole business model is built around creating a stir from fake news and draw attention to themselves. Trying to force Big Tech to compensate legacy media for content will (a) not deter these one bit and (b) probably also mean these alternative sources would have to be compensated.
Unless of course you think, legislation should be skewed towards catering for very special interests. But I digress.
You could in fact argue that some of the arguments being put forward by legacy media sounds an awful lot like how a oligopoly would find it useful to try and divide and conquer the market between them to suit their own purposes however noble or not those might seem to be.
As a follow-up from that let’s just for a second remember that what the media companies are essentially complaining about – near monopoly power with a couple of industry players – is what they essentially had themselves with their printing presses back in the good ol’ pre-internet days.
Those were the days.
So let’s just be clear what this is really about then:
It is about trying to ensure that more subsidies goes from someone with the ability to make money (or print their own, aka the government) to someone with a dwindling ability to make money themselves.
The song is an old one: Big Tech has disrupted the advertising market, and unless someone or something compensates us for the loss we have accrued due to the changing times, new technologies, more efficient opportunities for advertisers etcetera, we could be going away soon. So please: Send more money.
The problem is real. No doubt about it. Many annual reports no matter which company in which market will tell you the same.
But the question is whether it’s the right time to use an attempt at sedition in the US to once again beat the old, limp pony of a failed business model that should be fully compensated for by everyone else but the ones who have so far struggled to find a viable alternative?
Personally I would prefer if the energy was spent entirely (and yes, I know a lot of energy is going into this space) of finding a way to once again be the best option for advertisers, when they need to market their products and services.
Only real product and value innovation can help bring about that change.
Having said that I fully assume media companies to continue their efforts to turn back time to when they were in the very position they now complain Big Tech is in.