The emergence of the multi-sided platform business model has had a profound impact on the news publishing industry. By acting as gatekeepers to news traffic, large online platforms have become unavoidable trading partners for news businesses, and exert substantial bargaining power in their dealings. Concerns have been raised that the bargaining power imbalance between online platforms and content producers may threaten the viability of publishers’ businesses. Notably, digital infomediaries are accused of capturing a disproportionate share of advertising revenue relative to the investments made in producing news content. Moreover, by affecting the monetization of news, the dominance of some online platforms is deemed to have contributed to the decline of trustworthy sources of news.
Against this background, governments have been urged to intervene in order to ensure the sustainability of the publishing industry. The EU has decided to address publishers’ concerns by introducing an additional layer of copyright as a means to encourage cooperation between publishers and online content distributors. And the French Competition Authority has recently accused Google of adopting a display policy aimed at frustrating the objective of the domestic law implementing the EU legislation, hence requiring Google to conduct negotiations in good faith with publishers and news agencies on the remuneration for the reuse of their protected content. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instead embraced a regulatory approach, developing a mandatory bargaining code. This paper analyzes different solutions advanced to remedy these problems in order to assess their economic and legal justifications as well as their effectiveness.