Experts call for online ad revenue to be taxed

  • By Shelley Shan / Journalist

Google and Facebook should pay taxes on the advertising revenue they earn from using content produced by Taiwanese media, media experts said at an online press conference yesterday.

The government should also investigate whether the news media negotiated on unequal terms with these large international platforms, they said, adding that it should ask them to offer a reasonable amount of funding to support the creation of quality information content.

Google and Facebook collect around 80 percent of Taiwan’s digital advertising revenue, causing local media to lose more revenue than their counterparts in other countries, said National Chengchi University journalism professor Feng Chien-san (馮建 三), adding that funding available for information services across the nation has been reduced.

Fewer people want to be journalists because of the low salaries, he said.

“Taiwan has the freest environment in Asia for news media, but it cannot develop further due to a lack of resources. As such, we have seen a weakening of the democratic functioning of the media and less oversight of the powerful and powerful, ”Feng said.

As governments in other countries have used administrative, judicial and legislative means to charge the two tech giants for the use of news content, Feng said a better solution would be to impose a tax. on the advertising revenue they collected in Taiwan.

In addition to a corporate tax, some countries levy an additional tax on advertising revenue, he said.

Since the 1970s, Sweden has used advertising tax revenues to support news media development, while the Netherlands and South Korea have allocated part of audiovisual media advertising revenues to funding news media. , did he declare.

Taiwan could become the first country to impose a tax on advertising from these transnational platforms, Feng said.

Google is able to access a full set of user data through its Ad Manager system, but the data is not available to news editors, said Lin Chao-chen (林 照 真) professor at the National University Institute of Taiwan journalism.

“Under the cost-per-thousand rule, the news media in Taiwan can only earn NT $ 5-10 per thousand pageviews, and the price is much lower than in other countries,” he said. she declared.

In addition, publishers only receive 68% of ad revenue for displaying ads with Google AdSense for content, while their revenue share drops to 51% for using AdSense for search, said Linen.

However, Google also requires publishers to pay 20% of their ad revenue to media agents, making it the biggest recipient of digital ad revenue, she said.

Facebook, on the other hand, creates ad revenue through its “instant article” mechanism, allowing ads to appear at a faster rate, she said.

Ads are displayed while viewers read the news on Facebook, but Facebook is not required to pay to use the content, Lin said.

“Facebook doesn’t generate content, but it does make a profit from selling ads through content. News publishers do not know the number of ads sold by Facebook through its content, nor the total ad revenue. The platform does not reveal any of this information. It can easily change the algorithm to alter the data traffic, ”she said.

The two big platforms use big data and algorithms to decide what audiences see in the digital age, and people need to realize that content is not generated by the platforms themselves, a said Chen Ping-hung, professor at the Higher Institute of Mass Communication of the National Taiwan Normal University (陳炳宏) mentioned.

Experts also suggested that the government pay attention to “neighboring rights” legislation in Germany and France, as it may force platform operators to negotiate and pay media before they can use media content.

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