Australian publishers respond to draft mandatory code

Australian publishers respond to draft mandatory code

The Australian governing administration claimed on Friday it options to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with Australian media organizations truthful shell out for information material. The motive, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was not to protect Australian businesses from competition or disruption but to ensure they are paid fairly for original content.

If the US-based platforms can not agree with the Australian media businesses on pricing after three months, arbitrators would be appointed to make a binding decision, the draft said.

Both companies have previously downplayed the commercial impact of sharing news content, and have instead pointed to the benefits that media outlets get from using their platforms. The draft code initially applies only to Google and Facebook, but other digital platforms "may be added if they attain a bargaining power imbalance with Australian news media businesses in the future", the ACCC said.

Unlike other countries' so-far unsuccessful efforts to force the platforms to pay for news, the Australian initiative uses competition law and not copyright regulations to challenge what Australia calls an "acute bargaining power imbalance" between media and the United States giants. But talks over payment stalled and the government then asked the regulator to develop a mandatory code. The draft will be open to consultation until 28th august 2020.

In April, France's competition watchdog also ordered Google to negotiate with publishers for using news content.

Facebook has argued that the move is discriminatory, while Google has asserted that the value of news to Google is actually very small and that media outlets derive more benefit from the search giant than the other way around.

Nine, a major media company in Australia that owns The Sydney Morning Herald and the local edition of Business Insider, said it welcomed the government's decision to recognize "the importance of the regulatory and bargaining imbalances that exist between Australian media organizations and the dominant global digital platforms". "The situation is urgent, with media companies suffering huge advertising declines because of the coronavirus pandemic".

It could impose "substantial penalties" worth hundreds of millions of dollars on tech companies which fail to comply, he said.

In addition to payment for content, the code covers issues like access to user data and transparency around the algorithms used to rank content in the platforms' news feeds and search results. Media companies including News Corp Australia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, lobbied hard for the government to force the USA companies to the negotiating table amid a long decline in advertising revenue.

However, it is important to note that this code is still in the drafting stage and has not been passed by the Australian parliament as of now.

"While other countries are talking about the tech giants' unfair and damaging behaviour, the Australian government".

"Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake", he added.

"We wanted a model that would address this bargaining power imbalance and result in fair payment for content, which avoided unproductive and drawn-out negotiations, and wouldn't reduce the availability of Australian news on Google and Facebook", he said. They would also need to provide news media businesses with flexible user comment moderation tools, including an ability to "turn off" comments on individual stories they post to digital platforms.



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