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News Corp executives say Google and Facebook created dysfunctional, debased online environment

News Corp executives are slamming Google and Facebook for how they handle news. (dolphfyn/Getty Images)

News Corp. chief executive officer Robert Thomson slammed Google and Facebook for what he calls a "dysfunctional" and "debased" online environment that harms traditional media, according to a variety of published reports.

The criticism came Thursday, as News Corp. announced its quarterly earnings, France 24 reported.

Efforts by the two online giants to reduce misinformation and improve online news were only "modest steps toward changing a digital environment that is dysfunctional at its core," Thomson said.

Facebook and Google are "in the midst of a particularly disruptive period, commercially, socially and politically," he added.

In turn, the environment can limit potential advertisers.

"The bot-infested badlands are hardly a safe space for advertisers, whose brands are being tainted by association with the extreme, the violent and the repulsive," Thomson said.

News Corp. reported growth in online visits and subscriptions for its media properties such as the Wall Street Journal and The Sun of Britain, Thomson said. But the companies profitability could rise if "the potential returns for our journalism would be far higher in a less chaotic, less debased digital environment," he said.

How is the company doing?

Advertising revenues are down 6 percent compared to one year ago, News Corp. reported. The company attributed that to a weak print advertising market and a decision to stop publishing the Wall Street Journal international print newspaper, reports state.

In contrast, circulation and subscription revenues rose by 6 percent. Also, daily digital subscriptions increased to 1.39 million in the final three months of the year, compared to 1.08 million a year earlier.

News Corp. execs believe there is another way to add to the company's bottom line.

Should Facebook and Google pay publishers for content?

News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch last month suggested Facebook and Google should pay trusted publishers a carriage fee.

The online giants need to do more than attempt to reduce fake news, he said.

“The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services,” Murdoch said. “Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

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