Think-tank calls for Google to share more of £7bn UK revenue with publishers via news tax

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Google and other online giants should be taxed for the news they use from other media organisations, according to an independent think-tank.

The ResPublica report, Virtuous Media: How to improve plurality and transparency, says a 1 per cent levy could be used to help pay for the journalism the companies benefit from.

The call comes as commercial news providers have seen an acceleration in the rate that they are losing print and online advertising digital media giants Google and Facebook.

Guardian News and Media and Telegraph Media Group are both making widespread editorial cuts to make up for lost revenue. And the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday this week reported print advertising down 15 per cent year on year in the second quarter of 2016.

Justin Schlosberg, the report’s author, said: “Google gains traffic by using stories generated by the media but it pays nothing for the articles.

“At first glance this seems okay because readers can clearly see the story source, but for journalism and the media industry this is proving harmful.

“More and more people are turning to a single source for their stories and if that single source is Google, it is not contributing to the cost of creating the journalism they use.”

The tax would fund an independent “media plurality board” that would use the money to support national and local journalism across all platforms, the report recommends.

Google generated more than £7 billion of revenue in the UK alone last year with a market share of over 90 per cent, the report stated.

Commenting on the report, a Google spokesman said: “Google works with news publishers to increase traffic to their website and help them make money from that traffic.

“We drive over 10 billion clicks a month to publishers’ websites for free, representing an opportunity for publishers to grow and monetise their audience.

“Furthermore our ads services generate revenue online for our publishers. In 2015 we shared more than 10 billion US dollars (£6.8 billion) with our AdSense partners.”

Google is in the process of allocating €150m of grants to news organisations across Europe via its Digital News Initiative. The next round of grant applications opens on 2 June.

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