Tech platforms ‘pretty happy’ with news media bargaining code, suspects Gaven Morris

Former director of news at the ABC and newly appointed CEO at Bastion Transform, Gaven Morris has warned that a mixed-modeling approach to publicly-funded journalism could become a “slippery slope”.

Speaking on this week’s Mumbrellacast, to be released tomorrow, Morris said “I think we’ve got to be really careful to be honest because you’ll see some of the big tech and digital platform stamping their feet and complaining about the fact that they’re being forced through regulation to provide more support to the news and journalism industry”.

Morris: tech platforms “pretty happy with the way its worked out”

“But I also have a feeling that behind all of that in their boardrooms, they’re pretty happy with the way that’s worked out, because what they haven’t given away is any access to their main algorithms to their main feeds of content, all of those places they’d be terrified about regulators or monetising models that are different to the ones they’ve established.”

Morris said that as a result, media organisations have to be “really careful” about the way they interact with these new schemes.

“While it’s great to have some revenue coming back from the big tech platforms into newsrooms and into media organisations,” he said. “Let’s not be so naïve to think that we’ve still got to protect firstly the basic business models that some of these platforms have done much harm to over recent years.”

“But also their ability to still monopolise audiences on their main platforms, through their main algorithms and their, main front windows. So I think it’s a watch this space a little bit.”

Morris said that one of the things he was “very active” in talking about inside the ABC, prior to his departure at the end of last year, was to ensure that as a public broadcaster, it didn’t end up with a mixed model of funding, through some of the tech players. 

He said to have “publicly-funded journalists and newsrooms over here, and meanwhile sitting news to them are Google and Facebook-funded journalists and newsrooms newsrooms” becomes a very slippery slope for a public media organisation.

“But in commercial media organisations, I also think there are things just to keep an eye on in relation to what it means to business models and what it means to the power of those platforms.”

Later in the conversation, Morris speaks about the ABC’s approach defending itself in the face of external criticism, the place in the market for his new transformation consultancy at Bastion, and last week’s funding boost for the ABC and SBS.

Catch the full conversation below on the Mumbrellacast. Subscribe to the Mumbrellacast on your favourite podcast platform, or visit past episodes on the podcast hub here


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