Facebook has announced plans to share some of the estimated £5bn a year it makes from advertising in the UK with publishers through the launch of a new Facebook News tab on its app.
In a blog post, Facebook said it will pay publishers “for content that is not already on the platform” and help them to drive new audiences.
The first group of publishers to sign up includes local newspaper groups Archant, JPI Media, Reach and Midlands News Association; business publisher The Economist; consumer news brands The Guardian, Evening Standard and The Independent; and magazine publishers Conde Nast and Hearst.
Facebook said it expects many more publishers to join before launch, which is expected in January 2021 in the UK. Press Gazette understands the Daly Mail group will be among them.
The new Facebook News portal will offer “a mix of curated and personalised top stories to deliver informative, reliable and relevant news”, the tech giant said.
“Readers see the top headlines and stories of the day alongside news personalised to their interests. During major news cycles, Facebook News provides timely news digests, highlighting original and authoritative reporting on pressing topics.
“Facebook News also helps people discover new topics and stories based on the news they read, share and follow.”
The launch of Facebook News in the US has, the company said, seen 95% of the traffic delivered to publishers come from new readers who have not interacted with them in the past.
The new platform links out to publishers websites, so will drive traffic back to them rather than keeping it on Facebook. Paywalled articles will also be included on the platform.
Press Gazette understands payments to publishers will not be based on the number of clicks generated or the number of articles produced.
The company said in a statement: “Facebook is committed to supporting news organisations as they adapt to the changing digital world, and we are delighted to have so many partners working with us at this early stage.
“We’re in active negotiations to bring Facebook News to France and Germany as well, and we will continue to work with publishers in countries where market conditions and regulatory environments invite this kind of investment and innovation.”
David Higgerson, chief audience officer of Reach, said: “We welcome the introduction of the Facebook News Tab in the UK as a sign of Facebook’s commitment to ensuring that accurate, well-researched journalism is given prominence on its platform.”
Facebook has also announced the extension of its Community News Project.
Over the past two years, the Community News Programme has seen Facebook spend £4.5m training and placing 80 journalists to cover communities under-served by journalism.
The tech giant has announced a year-long extension of the scheme at a cost of £2.25m.
The move follows a pledge by Google last month to spend $1bn paying publishers for content over the next three years via a new platform called Google News Showcase
This week the UK Government announced plans to create a new competition watchdog to govern the relationship between news publishers and digital platforms such as Facebook and Google.
The new watchdog promises to govern their commercial relationships, ensuring the platforms are not imposing terms that limit the publishers’ ability to monetise their content.
Facebook, Google and Facebook’s subsidiary Instagram are exerting a growing dominance over the digital advertising market in the UK around the world and current take nearly £4 in every £5 which is spent advertising online.