Sorrell: Media Companies Masquerading as Tech Companies

Plenty has already been said about #prismgate, but this conversation will go on for a long time. Netopia welcomes it, as it is very much to the core of the question of the online society so I can assure you we will spend a lot of pixels on this topic going forward. But let me begin by pointing you to a very insightful story from The Guardian, where Sir Martin Sorrell – founder of marketing services giant WPP – predicts #prismgate will be a game changer for the role of companies like Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Twitter, AOL etc: [they are] “media companies masquerading as technology companies”. There are many reasons to be technology rather than media, in the latter case there is editorial responsibility for the content and strict legal or self-regulatory frameworks, the former has safe harbour and an ideology of so-called “openness” – effectively anti-regulation. Consider this: television in most countries have concessions with strict rules on how much adverts can be aired, a minimum number of minutes of news every day, mature content only to be broadcast after a certain time of night etc. It is overseen by government agencies and must also carefully follow right-holder agreements and advertising rules. On the other end of the spectrum is YouTube, which to a large extent shows the same content to the same viewers, but have none of this detailed set of rules. Who would ever want to be considered media company if that’s the option?