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Rupert Murdoch: Facebook Should Pay Publishers Just as Cable Operators Pay for TV

Rupert Murdoch weighed in on Facebook’s attempts to improve the accuracy of the news its delivers across its global platform — suggesting that what would really work is for the internet giant to follow the model of the pay-TV industry.

“If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” Murdoch said in a statement provided by News Corp.

He continued, “The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Today, the business models of pay TV and social media are largely dissimilar. Cable and satellite TV customers pay a monthly fee to get access to TV programming, while Facebook users don’t pay anything. Murdoch seems to be proposing that Facebook introduce cable-like subscription fees to be able to access news: “There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism,” he said.

His comments also come a little more than a week after Facebook unveiled plans to re-engineer its News Feed algorithms to prioritize posts from friends and family — and to downgrade content from media publishers, businesses and brands.

Murdoch, who’s the executive chairman of News Corp, also slammed Facebook — as well as Google — for popularizing “scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable.” The media mogul said that “the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.”

“I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person,” Murdoch said, “but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.”

News Corp’s holdings include Dow Jones & Co. (publisher of the Wall Street Journal), the New York Post, and HarperCollins.

Over the past several years, the media company has been an especially outspoken critic of Google’s search, arguing that Google has profited by commodifying content. Last fall, Google ended its default “first click free” program for subscription-based websites, a move News Corp CEO Robert Thomson called “an important first step in recognizing the value of legitimate journalism and provenance on the internet.”

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