By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter
The Legislative Assembly’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday passed a motion requiring the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) to finalize by August a model that will serve as the basis for the drafting of a law on negotiation of news media to regulate content pricing.
The ministry should take a decision after analyzing similar legislation in other countries along with legislative proposals from lawmakers in the committee, the proposal said.
The committee convened a meeting with concerned government agencies after Taiwanese news media associations held two rounds of negotiations with representatives of Google and Meta last December and in March.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
After talks in December, Google launched a Taiwan News Digital Co-Prosperity Fund on March 8, pledging to spend NT$300 million (US$9.78 million) over the next three years to facilitate the digital transformation of Taiwan’s news industry.
Meta rejected any plan for shared prosperity.
Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) said the dialogue between digital platforms and Taiwanese news media failed to touch on the issue of legislation, which is the core issue.
Google’s co-prosperity fund would only spend NT$100 million a year, which is more like a PR fund to appease local news media, Chang Liao said.
“The fund will be managed by the Digital Transformation Association, but we are not sure if it is a credible organization and will protect freedom of expression,” he said, adding that the fund should be managed by the government.
Vice Minister for Digital Affairs Lee Huai-jen (李懷仁) told the committee that all government agencies have agreed that news has value, is related to public interests and should not be treated as a pure commodity.
The Co-prosperity fund would not be enough to support local news media as issues such as fair distribution of profits between news media and digital platforms need to be addressed, he said.
A third round of dialogue is to be held shortly after the Digital Transformation Association begins accepting funding applications from news media, he said.
“We hope that the dialogue would also be a way to monitor how the co-prosperity fund is used,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Yuan has tasked MODA and the Fair Trade Commission to study similar laws in other countries and consider what the best model for Taiwan would be, he said.
The News Media Bargaining Code in Australia makes it mandatory for digital platforms to negotiate the pricing of content with news media if the two cannot reach an agreement, but such a practice would put small and medium-sized news media at a disadvantage, he said.
Taiwan’s copyright law would have to be completely changed if the nation were to adopt neighboring rights in EU copyright law that require payment from digital platforms to use content produced by news media, he said.
The Ministry of Finance declined to levy a digital tax, Lee added.
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