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Facebook to pay UK publishers for content with January launch of News tab

Facebook to pay UK publishers for content with January launch of News tab

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It’s expected to pay publishers millions per year to license their articles

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Illustration by James Bareham / The Verge

Facebook is launching its News tab in the UK in January in a move that’s expected to see the company pay news publishers tens of millions of pounds annually to license their articles, The Guardian reports. In an article announcing the launch, Facebook says it also aims to help publishers expand their audience, potentially benefiting both their subscriber numbers and ad revenue.

For news publishers, the most important aspect of the service will likely be the payments Facebook says it will make to include their content. Although Facebook is declining to say how much money it’s expecting to pay as part of the scheme, The Guardian reports that some publishers are expecting to make millions of pounds a year from the service, at a cost to tens of millions of pounds to Facebook overall.

Over a dozen publishers have already signed up

The social media giant says it’s already partnered with over a dozen publishers for the service including Guardian Media Group, Reach (who’s titles include the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, and local publications like the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo), The Economist, and Wired and GQ publisher Conde Nast. Notably absent from its list is Daily Mail owner DMGT and Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, The Guardian notes, though Facebook says it expects more publishers to sign up prior to launch. 

Similar to how it works in the US, the news tab will consist of a mix of curated and personalized stories. News digests will be provided for major stories, pointing readers towards “original and authoritative reporting,” and the service will also recommend new topics and articles based on what people choose to read and share. Facebook’s head of news partnerships in northern Europe, Sarah Brown, tells The Guardian that Facebook’s news curators will pay attention to the quality of reporting and sourcing of individual news articles when choosing which to highlight.

Facebook’s News tab officially launched in the US earlier this year. The company says that 95 percent of the traffic publishers have gained through the service has been from new audiences. In August, the company said it was considering expanding the service to more countries including the UK, Germany, France, India, and Brazil in the next “six months to a year.” In its announcement today Facebook says it is in active negotiations to launch the service in France and Germany, though there’s no mention of Brazil or India.

The announcement comes as Facebook is facing a new regulator in the UK in the form of the Digital Markets Unit, a team based within the country’s existing Competition and Markets Authority. The regulator has been tasked with writing and enforcing a new code of practice for tech giants operating in the country. The regulator’s formation follows concerns over Facebook and Google’s dominance of the online advertising market.

As well as launching Facebook News in the country, Facebook says it’s extending its Community News Project, which has funded the training of 80 journalists over the past two years. The program will be extended for a year at a cost of $3 million, which could offer an additional year of training to just over half of the existing journalists on the scheme, as well as recruiting “dozens” of new reporters.

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