UK report says news via tech giants should be regulated 

A government-backed review of the UK news industry has come to several interesting conclusions. From BBC News:

A regulator should oversee tech giants like Google and Facebook to ensure their news content is trustworthy, a government-backed report has suggested.

The Cairncross Review into the future of the UK news industry said such sites should help users identify fake news and “nudge people towards reading news of high quality”.

It also backed tax reliefs to encourage the provision of local journalism. In addition, the report called for a new Institute for Public Interest News. Such a body, it said, could work in a similar way to the Arts Council, channelling public and private funding to “those parts of the industry it deemed most worthy of support”.

The review’s goal was to look at the threats to sustainability for high-quality news. No conversation on that can happen without investigating the behaviour of the tech giants, of course:

Services like Facebook, Google and Apple should continue their attempts to help readers understand how reliable a story is, and the process that decides which stories are shown should be more transparent, it said.

“Their efforts should be placed under regulatory scrutiny – this task is too important to leave entirely to the judgment of commercial entities,” according to the report.

A regulator would initially only assess how well these sites are performing, but if they are not effective, the report warned “it may be necessary to impose stricter provisions”.

Yet the report fell short of requiring Facebook, Google and other tech giants to pay for the news they distribute via their platforms.

In his analysis, my colleague Amol Rajan points out that the report drops short of recommending any drastic measures, such as charging social networks to have news content on their platform. Which, as is obvious, would never happen anyway.

Rajan’s conclusion is that if people want high-quality news, they’ll need to pay for it. It can be done – the New York Times reported record-breaking revenues last week. But, there are questions in the UK about whether the BBC’s ubiquity makes commercialising “serious” news more difficult.

Here are the recommendations in one handy, bullet-pointed guide:

Sky’s Rowland Manthorpe: