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Chris Duncan The Sun the Times

Sun and Times owner brands Facebook's mobile publishing plans as an internet 'audience tax’


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

October 29, 2014 | 3 min read

The UK’s biggest newspaper publisher has branded a proposal from Facebook to distribute news content directly to mobile as a “tax on audience”.

Facebook is looking to become a news distribution platform

News UK Ltd, levelled the accusation at Facebook after it announced that it was looking for media partnerships to deliver news content directly to its 654 million daily mobile users.

The plan was attacked by News UK, a branch of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, as publishers such as the Sun and the Times already have a presence on the site and full editorial control of what lands on users’ timelines.

Furthermore, both publications have a pay wall limiting the usefulness of such a partnership with Facebook, according to Chris Duncan, the chief marketing officer of News UK, who spoke to Business Insider.

Duncan, who branded the proposal as a tax on “audience” and “navigation” said: “It’s like handing over the keys to all the things digital publishers are good at. We’d lose visibility of our usage and visibility of our audience.

"There are more than one million advertisers now and lots more competition for timeline space. Every trend you can extrapolate, it’s become an internet ad platform, not a publishing platform.”

He added that smaller titles could consider entering the scheme in a bid to expand their audiences but he wondered what price they would have to pay for such a service.

If Facebook was able to tap the vein of news, which is constantly posted to the site on a daily basis, it could find itself quite a sustainable revenue stream. Such a scheme is not vital however as Faceboook announced a 90 per cent year on year increase in profit to $806m on Tuesday.

Chris Duncan The Sun the Times

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News UK

News Corp UK & Ireland Limited, is a British newspaper publisher, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the American mass media conglomerate News Corp.

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