Beecher calls for 'social licence' to support journalism

Publisher Eric Beecher has weighed in on the side of Google and Facebook, refuting claims that they have destroyed the business models of major publishers.

The New Daily - of which Beecher is chairman, along with Solstice Media, and owner of Private Media - reports in his evidence to the Senate hearing that representatives from Nine, News Corp and The Guardian had "wrongly accused Facebook and Google during previous hearings of 'stealing both their content and their advertising revenue'."

He told the committee the multibillion-dollar organisations "clearly gained more than they lost from sharing their journalism on Facebook and Google.

"Those media companies actively provide snippets or their full journalism to the platforms for one blindingly obvious reason: They gain huge benefit from the exposure - and clicks - their content attracts on Google and Facebook.

"If they didn't, they wouldn't allow it to be 'stolen'."

He said the revenue lost by news publishers had come from classified advertising, and had gone online, mostly "ending up in the pockets" of realestate.com.au (owned by News Corp), Domain (owned by Nine) and other classified advertising websites such as Seek and Carsales.

"As has been meticulously researched, the vast bulk of Google and Facebook's advertising revenue has not come from news publishers," he told the hearing.

However Beecher (pictured) agreed that the internet giants were "almost certainly too powerful" and should be legally required to "pay full Australian tax on all their Australian profits that stem from all their Australian revenue.

"I'm not here to defend Google and Facebook," he said.

He claimed their "huge market share and tax minimisation strategies" were the reason why they should pay "what is, in effect, a social licence to support the public interest journalism that has been severely affected by the invention of the commercial internet, which Google and Facebook dominate," he said.

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