TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese scholar published a letter on Wednesday (Dec. 15) urging the Taiwanese government to proactively lead news outlets and other digital content providers in efforts to charge multinational digital platforms for carrying local digital content.
Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Deputy Secretary General Lin Chung-cheng (林忠正), who has a Ph.D. in Economics, said that Taiwan’s digital advertising revenue reached NT$48.26 billion (US$1.73 billion) in 2020, which accounted for over 65% of the total advertising market.
However, search engine giant Google and social media titan Facebook took a big chunk of that digital advertising revenue generated from advertisers in Taiwan last year, raking in about NT$40 billion, or about 80%, according to the letter.
The news outlets have been the hardest hit industry by the tech giants, yet the Taiwanese government has not taken any actions to push back their monopolization of the advertising market, Lin said.
Over the past few years, the European Union has slapped fines on the two tech giants, including giving Google fines of EU$2.4 billion (US$2.7 billion) in 2017 and EU$4.3 billion in 2018, the scholar and former politician wrote.
Citing the Australian government’s fight against Google and Facebook, Lin said the Australian government began to keep a close watch on the two tech companies when a market monitoring unit found that US$53 and US$28 of every US$100 in online advertising revenue had been taken by Google and Facebook, respectively, with the rest going to other internet platforms.
Spurred by the finding, the Australian authorities passed legislation to require these gigantic companies to pay for the news content they use in order to create a fairer business environment, the letter read.
Despite retaliatory news blackouts in Australia by Facebook as well as complaints from the public about a loss of access, the government reached agreements with the two companies, which agreed to pay Australian media groups for their content, according to Lin.
Lin urged the Taiwanese government to emulate the EU and the Australian governments in standing up to the big tech companies. If news outlets closed due to advertising revenue decline, it would be hard to maintain a democratic society, he claimed.
Citing Article 14 of the Fair Trade Act, Lin said it’s lawful for news media and content-producing companies to jointly negotiate with multinational platforms for terms requiring them to pay for content. He added that even though Google and Facebook pay 5% in business taxes, they are not required to pay income taxes on the revenue they make in Taiwan. He urged the government to get involved in helping domestic news outlets and digital content providers to jointly negotiate with the multinationals.