In a World first: Australia wants Google and Facebook to pay for news content

On Friday, the Australian government said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with Australia media businesses fair pay for news content.

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The Australian government trying to make the global tech giants Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay Australian media outlets for news content.

On Friday, the Australian government said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with Australia media businesses fair pay for news content. The government has released a draft mandatory code of conduct that aims to succeed where other countries, including France and Spain, had failed in making the digital giants Google and Facebook pay for the news siphoned from commercial media companies.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, “Australia will become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content provided by media companies under a royalty-style system that will become law this year.” He also told reporters in Melbourne, “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses. It’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and a sustainable media landscape.” He further said, “Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake.”

According to the draft, if the U.S. based platforms after three months could not agree with the Australian media businesses on pricing then arbitrators would be appointed to make a binding decision. Frydenberg said the draft will be open to consultation until Aug. 28, with the legislation to be introduced to Parliament soon after.”



Despite the payment issues, the code also covers issues including access to user data and transparency of algorithms used to rank and present media content. If the code is a violation it could attract penalties of up to 10% of the platform’s annual turnover or a fine of 10 million Australian dollars ($7.2 million). Frydenberg further said that the motive was not to protect Australian businesses from competition or interruption but to ensure they are paid fairly for the original content.

Mel Silva, Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand said the code discounts the significant value Google provided in free clicks on publishers’ content. Silva also said, “We hoped that the code would be forward-thinking and the process would create incentives for both publishers and digital platforms to negotiate and innovate for a better future, so we are deeply disappointed and concerned the draft code does not achieve this.”

Silva further added, “Instead, the government’s heavy-handed intervention threatens to impede Australia’s digital economy and impacts the services we can deliver to Australians.” But Facebook did not respond for comment.

After the coronavirus pandemic has created an advertising revenue crisis for many Australian media companies, the conservative government is going on with the changes. Media companies including News Corp Australia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, lobbied hard for the government to force the US companies to the negotiating table amid a long decline in advertising revenue.

Michael Miller, Executive Chairman of News Corp Australia said in a statement, “While other countries are talking about the tech giants’ unfair and damaging behavior, the Australian government … (is) taking world-first action.”

According to Frydenberg, for every A$100 (£54.89) spent on online advertising in Australia, excluding classified ads, nearly a third goes to Google and Facebook.

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In a World first: Australia wants Google and Facebook to pay for news content
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On Friday, the Australian government said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with Australia media businesses fair pay for news content.
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THE POLICY TIMES
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