Facebook News in UK to help 'sustain' local journalism

The arrival of Facebook News comes after the news tab feature was rolled out in the United States in late 2019.
The arrival of Facebook News comes after the news tab feature was rolled out in the United States in late 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Facebook News launched in Britain on Tuesday (Jan 26), delivering users of the world's leading social network curated news content bought from traditional publishers that have struggled financially.

The arrival of Facebook News comes after the news tab feature was rolled out in the United States in late 2019 and is part of plans to extend it worldwide.

Facebook will pay publishers for their content, and the service will include input from Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News and Telegraph Media Group, among others.

The tech giant had already agreed to deals with The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent and The Mirror.

Media companies have struggled with dwindling advertising revenue and print sales as content has moved online and become available for free, forcing a host of titles to close.

"Our aim is to build on our efforts to sustain great national and local journalism and create more value for publishers," Mr Jesper Doub, director of news partnerships in Europe for Facebook, wrote in a blog.

"The product is a multi-year investment that puts original journalism in front of new audiences as well as providing publishers with more advertising and subscription opportunities," he added.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden welcomed the move, calling "authoritative journalism... a cornerstone of democracy and the antidote to dangerous misinformation".

"UK publishers are seeking a fair business relationship with online platforms, so it's good to see Facebook working to promote their output," he added.

In April last year, the National Union of Journalists said the coronavirus pandemic has made the situation facing newspapers worse.

It called on the British government to impose a windfall tax on global tech giants to help shore up struggling publishers.