Let’s Make FAANG Pay for Some Ads!

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Let’s Make FAANG Pay for Some Ads!

Many metropolitan newspapers are dying.  No surprise there; the ads have disappeared.  Craigslist killed the classified pages.  Google, Bing and others killed the quick answer universe and the bulk of commercial advertising.  The internet enabled news (real, fake, “fake-fake,” negative and more) to be moved about the world almost instantly and almost always for free.  Of course, you get what you pay for and, in an odd twist on that, you get it forever as it's almost impossible to fully wipe away yesterday’s tweet, story, email, etc.

Anyway, with the exception of a few national survivors, money for advertising that funded journalistically sound local, regional and national reporting has dried up.   Among the broadly distributed meaningful and serious national news outlets still surviving are the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Swift stations), the so-called cable networks (CNBC, CNN, CNNI, Fox News Channel, Fox Business, MSNBC), some streaming services (such as Cheddar), nationally distributed newspapers (The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal), some dying magazines (Bloomberg Businessweek, Mother Jones, Newsweek, Time), one wire service (The Associated Press) and some radio services (National Public Radio, Public Radio International).

They all struggle a bit; advertising and/or donations aren’t raging torrents of dollars today.  But maybe we can change that.  I’ve got a modest proposal.  But before we get to that, allow me to join in bashing Alden Global Capital and the like.  These unprincipled bloodsuckers are doing nothing more than milking a dying industry by keeping individual newspaper corporate margins at 20% or so (paid, of course, to the owning entity) while routinely firing employees to keep the margins high.  Call it getting rich by killing local news.

Where did those historically robust advertising dollars once enjoyed by America’s newspapers all go?  You know the answer: They went to Facebook and Google and a few other enterprising corporations known as tech stars.  The FAANG world of Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, Netflix and Google … have been everybody’s favorite companies.  Until recently.  Today, cracks are beginning to show.

Last week, the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect.  The new of rules are all about privacy.  They're stringent; and they'll probably come, in a slightly lighter form, to the U.S. before too long.  The fear, of course, is that the new regime is so cumbersome in execution that it stifles the FAANG world.

But here is something FAANG could do in the United States to help keep the rules, and the world, in reason:  The FAANG guys with all the ad dollars should buy a whole bunch of big daily ads (collectively would be great) in every major metropolitan daily, every local broadcast evening news program, every drive-time radio news segment, every national evening news show on broadcast networks and all cable news networks.  And, of course, they should make big donations to PBS and NPR news.  That might take a little pressure off FAANG while also making local and national American news reporting great again.  Which would be a whole lot more important than getting people to march around in silly MAGA hats that mean, and do, absolutely nothing.

Random Notes

Across the pond, the European Union’s move to rein in FAANG is because of privacy concerns.  Privacy, though, is a more or less modern concept … for a fun read, check out this history of privacy.

Listen for lots of noise on June 11 as the new network neutrality “light touch” rules from the Federal Confusion Commission take effect.

And be sure to check out Ed Martin’s best of the lot Upfront Week reviews here on MediaVillage.

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