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Ten's Gordon slams fake news, social media

AAP logoAAP 7/12/2016 Lilly Vitorovich

Ten Network chairman David Gordon has hit out at social media companies for allowing fake news to circulate on their networks, suggesting they should be held to the same standards as commercial broadcasters.

"It is not acceptable that social media and other online businesses, some of the largest companies in the world with enormous resources, employing thousands of the smartest people, and accessing billions of citizens on this planet, can claim to be unable to monitor and ensure that the truth is delivers on their sites," Mr Gordon said.

"In my opinion, 'fake news' is just lies and deception by another name."

Mr Gordon, speaking at Ten's annual general meeting in Sydney on Thursday, said the size of the companies' audiences and global impact meant they should be held to a high standard.

"If they choose to be media businesses, as they have, then they have a responsibility to their stockholders, to their employees, to their advertisers and to all of us - and we should all hold them accountable," he said.

Mr Gordon didn't name any social media companies in his speech but Facebook and Twitter have been criticised after fake news stories were more widely shared than real news on social media during the recent US Presidential election.

A BuzzFeed News analysis found fake political stories - predominantly pro-Donald Trump or anti-Hillary Clinton - generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post in the final three months of the US Presidential campagin.

Criticism over the trend caused Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg last month to vow to crack down on fake news on the social network.

Mr Gordon also called on the federal government to further slash network broadcast licence fees to bring them closer to global standards.

Mr Gordon said Australian networks pay far more than other free-to-air broadcasters around the world despite having the heaviest local content obligations.

"We pay 115 times more than in the US, where broadcasters pay 0.06 per cent of revenue. In the UK, broadcasters pay 0.18 per cent of revenue, which covers spectrum access and a licence fee," Mr Gordon said.

Ten believes the UK is the single best and most fitting model for Australia to adopt, he said.

"Our current rate is almost 20 times higher," Mr Gordon said.

Former federal trade minister Andrew Robb - who represents mining magnate and major Ten shareholder Gina Rinehart on the Ten board - said licensing fees were unfair.

"It is a ball and chain around the industry, and it's an unfair ball and chain. It does put us at a disadvantage to international groups that are able to participate in the domestic market," Mr Robb said at the AGM.

Mr Robb said he would take up the issue with the Turnbull government once an 18 month post-retirement period prohibiting him working as a lobbyist has expired.

On the outlook front, CEO Paul Anderson said its television revenue was up 1.9 per cent in the first quarter for the year ending August 31, 2017.

Ten shares rose one cent to $1.00 on Thursday.

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