Whitehead's INMA playbook on Big Tech bargaining

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Former Fairfax marketing director Robert Whitehead has shared experience in a new playbook for publishers building relationships with Big Tech platforms.

INMA says relationships require a new focus on solutions, ranging from direct dialogue to collective bargaining, to changes in the law.

In its report, 'How to decode the publisher-platform relationship', it aims to create a first-draft playbook for how to strategically position the leading platforms in reader relationships, premiumisation of audiences, using local industry alliances, reselling platform solutions, acquiring users through platforms, lobbying guidance, and monitoring legal breakthroughs.

The report tracks four key issues:

-Publisher sentiments about platforms: Surveys the views of news publishers worldwide about their relationships with Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon.

-Legal and regulatory ecosystem for platforms: Connects the dots on the fast-emerging legal and regulatory landscape internationally.

-Publisher-platform issues and potential solutions: Prioritises publisher-platform issues and potential solutions such as copyright/news aggregation, privacy/consumer data, tax status, fake news and fake ads, unbiased prominence for quality subscription content, the platform news tax, and ad tech dominance.

The report is part of INMA's Digital Platform Initiative, which aims help and empower publishers in dealing with the threats to financial sustainability accelerated by the rise of Big Tech platforms. The initiative distills the complex issues facing the news industry as a result of digital platforms.

INMA says 'How To decode the publisher-platform relationship' comes at a pivotal moment - evolving tensions surrounding the broad intertwining of the Big Tech platforms in the business model of news publishers are creating intense pressure points for legal relief and direct discussions. How publishers prioritise and distill that broad landscape is the key objective of the INMA report.

The work of Australian media veteran Robert Whitehead (pictured), the report emphasises four key issues between the "unavoidable business partners:"

Privacy and data control.

News aggregation.

Algorithms downplaying quality and subscription journalism.

Market power over monetisation of news media.

It was based on interviews with 45 media leaders, regulators, and current and former executives of digital platforms. The report overlays publisher concerns on six continents with major regulatory developments in Australia, the European Union, the UK, and the US.

"Because of the global nature of the platforms, a regulatory development in one region can impact the publisher-platform ecosystem in all other regions - making the linkage that INMA achieves in this report all the more important," it says. "If one theme ties together these regulatory developments, it is the impact of platforms on the business of journalism, according to the report. Once the purview of lobbyists on the side of the news business, Big Tech's ubiquity has made regulatory issues central to the strategy and everyday operations of publishers."

It is available free to INMA members and for US$795 to non-members , including a member benefits.

Details at www.inma.org/reports.

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