Major U.S. Publishers Join Coalition for App Fairness
Digital Content Next, which represents the AP, The New York Times, NPR, ESPN, Vox, The Washington Post, Meredith, Bloomberg, NBCU, The Financial Times, and more, has become the 50th member to join the Coalition for App Fairness.
A number of other European media organizations have already joined the Coalition for App Fairness, including the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, GESTE, and Schibsted. Digital Content Next is the first to represent the news and media industry in the United States, and accumulatively reaches an audience of over 233 million unique visitors and 100 percent of the U.S. online population.
The publishers believe that Apple "severely impacts" their subscription-based models by serving as an intermediary. In short, the argument postulates that Apple is wrong to force publishers to use in-app payments for subscription services, which, in turn, means that prices have to rise to account for Apple's commission.
"DCN is pleased to join the Coalition for App Fairness working to establish a fair and competitive digital landscape," Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint said in a statement. "The premium publisher members of DCN enjoy trusted, direct relationships with consumers, who don't expect intermediaries to impose arbitrary fees and rules which limit their ability to consume the news and entertainment they love."
Earlier this year, Digital Content Next criticized Apple's business practices when it halved its commission from 30 percent to 15 percent for video subscription apps. The organization alleges that Apple amended its App Store rules for Amazon specifically, in order to get Amazon's Prime Video app on iOS and tvOS. Publishers essentially wanted the same discounted fee for themselves but were unable to do so, despite the fact that Apple says its App Store rules are applied evenly.
Furthermore, Digital Content Next argues that Apple's fees and Safari's blocking of third-party cookies and tracking workarounds have pushed publishers away from direct audience revenue, such as subscriptions and events. It claims that Apple has instead pushed them toward digital ads where they had to pay a 30 percent commission on earnings.
Publishers have also expressed concerns about Apple News+ limiting revenue, affording "little in the way of direct relationships with readers," and giving "little control over the business," with some publications such as The New York Times, which is part of Digital Context Next, withdrawing from the service entirely.
"Having DCN join the Coalition for App Fairness is a landmark moment for our campaign, and their insight into core issues with the App Store that top outlets face will only make our voice stronger," said Sarah Maxwell, spokesperson for the Coalition for App Fairness, in a statement. "We're excited to work with them to advocate for App Store policies that are fair, hold Apple accountable, and give consumers freedom of choice."
The Coalition for App Fairness was founded by a large group of companies, such as Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain, Deezer, Match, Prepear, ProtonMail, and SkyDemon, many of whom have had major disagreements with Apple over various issues.
The organization describes itself as "an independent nonprofit organization founded by industry-leading companies to advocate for freedom of choice and fair competition across the app ecosystem." The coalition is based in Washington D.C. and Brussels, and aims to lead legal and regulatory changes with regards to what it says are three key issues; "anti-competitive policies," "30 percent app tax," and "no consumer freedom."