IGF 2019 WS #109 Can tech regulation improve news media sustainability?

Organizer 1: ,
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Mark Nelson, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Mira Milosevic, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Elena Perotti, Private Sector, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 4: Hamadou Tidiane Sy, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Laura Schneider, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

With the news media languishing from the loss of advertising revenues to the big digital platforms, can new regulations make it easier for news organizations to pay the bills required to sustain independent journalism?

How will new regulations on social media platforms and other internet tech companies impact the ability of news media organizations to remain financially viable?

How do we pay for the production of high quality, independent news media in the digital age? What role might tech sector regulation play in this regard?

Relevance to Theme: Currently, the majority of financial business models in the digital sphere revolve around access to user data, which serves as the basis for targeting advertising. In fact, the disruption of the advertising market from legacy media to digital platforms is what has jeopardized the ability of news organizations to fund independent journalism. Thus, the primary issue at stake is essentially one about data governance, which is why this track is the best fit for this workshop.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Around the world, people are increasingly accessing news and information via the internet. Thus, the laws, policies, and even physical infrastructure of the internet are incredibly important in determining what news and info people have access to. Moreover, the digital revolution has disrupted the traditional news media business model based on advertising. However new tech regulation being implemented in many countries will most likely, once again, alter the digital media ecosystem and have broader impacts on news media. More discussion and debate are needed at the international internet governance level in order to understand and prepare for these changes.

Format: 

Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min

Description: Worldwide in 2019, a raft of new laws and policies aimed at regulating the tech sector — in particular social media platforms — were debated or even sometimes implemented. This includes national laws mandating takedown of disinformation and/or hate speech, new copyright protections for news content in the EU, updated data privacy regulations, and even anti-competition policies that could lead to the break-up of large tech firms. While much time has been spent analyzing the freedom of expression implications of these new policies, few have looked at how these changes to the digital ecosystem will impact one of the great conundrums of today’s media business: How do we pay for the production of high quality, independent news media in the digital age? With the news media languishing from the loss of advertising revenues to the big digital platforms, can new regulations make it easier for news organizations to pay the bills required to sustain independent journalism?

This panel will explore how tech regulation may impact the news media in terms of any changes to advertising dynamics, data governance, and the overall financial sustainability of all types of news outlets. We will look at competition policies and anti-trust “safe harbor” proposals and explore whether news producers will be able to make the case for a more equitable sharing of revenues. Particular focus will be on how regulation may impact small and independent outlets in developing countries. Speakers include representative from news publishers, media support organizations, journalists, legal experts, and national media regulators.

Expected Outcomes: This session is being organized by the newly formed IGF Dynamic Coalition on the Sustainability of Journalism and News Media. The goal is to discuss this emerging topic of interest and to also identify stakeholders present at the IGF who may wish to become more engaged. This discussion at this session will inform the ongoing research agenda of the DC and the results will be circulated within the journalism support and media development communities.

Discussion Facilitation: 

This session is meant to be highly interactive and take advantage of the overwhelming expertise of IGF participants - both onsite and online. The onsite moderator will begin the round table by allowing each of the invited speakers to introduce themselves and talk about their perspective of the issue for no more than 3-5 minutes. The moderator will then ask one follow-up question for the entire panel. After this initial discussion, the floor will be opened to questions from audience members - both onsite and online. The goal is to generate a lively discussion in which a variety of perspectives are aired.

Online Participation: 

This session will have a dedicated online moderator who will make sure that all comments and questions submitted online are shared with the audience onsite. This online participation tool is particularly important for this session as one of our goals it to have a set of perspectives that are geographically diverse. Many of the individuals and groups concerned with news media sustainability in the digital age will not necessarily be able to travel to Berlin for the IGF, so we will prioritize their participation via the online platform.

Proposed Additional Tools: We will highly promote this session on social media. We will encourage people to use the official online participation tool as this makes it easier to track comments and questions.

SDGs: 

GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions