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Niamh Burns, a senior analyst at Enders Analysis, argues that OpenAI and the FT share enough incentives to sign a deal, but publishers and tech companies bring different perspectives to the negotiating table.

“Publishers say using their content to train LLMs is against their terms of use and that licensing is essential. OpenAI says it doesn’t breach copyright, and frames deals as voluntary support of the journalism sector,” she says.

“Licensing is still a grey area, but these early deals are setting some precedents. The problem for publishers is we have no idea what AI products will look like in a year’s time. They might not even know what to ask for.”

RedBird IMI will sell its claim to own the Telegraph Media Group (TMG) due to the public interest test it was set to fail, with the Spectator also back on the block

TMG surpassed a declared goal of 1 million subscribers by the end of 2023, motivating our forecast of 4% revenue growth for FY2023 to reach £265 million

The buyer of the Telegraph is likely to face an intervention on public interest grounds from the Secretary of State—a hurdle that could dissuade many bidders

Niamh Burns, a senior analyst at Enders Analysis, said an agreement was bound to be reached ultimately because the presence of UMG content on the platform suited both sides.

“TikTok’s content is way more engaging when it comes with a good music catalogue,” she said. “On the other side, the promotional benefits to UMG and its artists of being on TikTok are clear. You can see that in how Taylor Swift decided unilaterally to return to the platform before her new album was released.”

In part the title was vulnerable because of its very nature as a digest of diverse content, says Abi Watson, a senior research analyst at media specialists Enders Analysis. In the digital media revolution, she says, “the brands and the magazines that have done well tend to be those that are specialist” – what she terms a “flight to niche” content.

A bigger challenge for Reader’s Digest, however, was the ageing, decidedly analogue demographic of its readership. It’s not impossible to survive with older readers, says Watson, but you do need to keep finding new ones as, put bluntly, they die off. “Because Reader’s Digest didn’t have a particularly strong digital presence, they’re not refreshing that audience. So they lost that input at the top of the funnel.”

Niamh Burns, a senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, said the FT’s “high-quality” content would be attractive to OpenAI and improve its chatbot’s responses.

“Its material will be of real value to OpenAI for powering a chatbot that can output accurate, high-quality responses to user queries needing up-to-date information,” she said. “The FT’s product and brand strength also means that it is among the most insulated from any substitution risk that comes with AI products gaining steam among users.”

“I can see Amazon taking an interest because it’s much more willing to experiment than, say, Apple, and TikTok’s push into shopping would give Amazon a world of possible integrations,” said Jamie MacEwan, senior research analyst at Enders Analysis.

Even MacEwan said he doesn’t think Project Texas is a strong enough argument for why Oracle should be considered.

“It [Oracle] will struggle with the business-critical aspects, like ensuring a clean technical and operational separation from ByteDance,” MacEwan said. “And then whether TikTok needs to rebuild the algorithm or is allowed to transfer critical technology from ByteDance, you really need a strategic corporate buyer to make that a successful transition. Otherwise it’s TikTok going it alone – which also runs into the trust issue of are they truly shutting down all the backdoors as they transfer systems to the US? Either way, it will take years to get right.”

With traffic from Facebook and X to news publishers’ destinations in decline, distribution is shifting to other platforms where they have more control, such as feeds served on WhatsApp and newsletters on LinkedIn

There is no one silver bullet platform to replace Facebook, on which certain publishers became overly reliant, or X. News publishers are trying out a myriad of platforms to see which work best for the specific audiences and use-cases they are cultivating

WhatsApp and LinkedIn are still platforms that are mediated for news publishers, so risks remain. These platforms have highly differentiated alignment with the needs of enterprises producing journalism