Free TV Australia Calls For “Speedy Action” On Media Bargaining Code, As Sorrell Voices Concerns

Free TV Australia Calls For “Speedy Action” On Media Bargaining Code, As Sorrell Voices Concerns

The government is being urged by media businesses to pass the controversial News Media Bargaining Code into law, as the Senate Economics Committee considers the changes this week.

Free TV Australia this morning reaffirmed its support for the proposed code and called for “speedy action” on the matter.

“There has rarely been a more important time for Australians to be able to access credible, reliable information and verified facts,” said Free TV Chairman Greg Hywood.

“Parliament now has the opportunity to pass the news media bargaining Code which will ensure that Google and Facebook pay a fair price for the quality news content that all Australians rely on.”

Seven West Media managing director and CEO James Warburton echoed the calls.

“Now is the moment for Parliament to pass into law the News Media Bargaining Code. A strong and viable Australian news media sector is fundamental to our democracy, and the Code is a key step in ensuring its ongoing success in the face of foreign digital giants,” he said.

A Senate committee is currently reviewing the proposed laws.

Sorrell speaks out

Meanwhile, Sir Martin Sorrell has voiced his concerns around the legislation.

In a submission to the Senate inquiry on behalf of his S4 media business, Sorrell pointed out the notice requirements surrounding algorithmic changes as a primary concern.

As it stands now, Google and Facebook will be forced to provide 14 days notice to news publishers regarding any algorithmic changes.

Sorrell questioned the feasibility of this requirement.

“From our understanding, thousands of changes occur on a yearly basis with most taking place daily; complying with a 14 day notice period would delay important updates and drive up company operating costs,” the submission states.

He also suggested that this could disadvantage other businesses.

“In addition to disrupting the digital platform’s business through notice period delays, there is
a power imbalance that immediately occurs between news publisher recipients and other search engine users through the content included in the notice. A mandated special treatment for a specific subset of users would disadvantage everyone else,” it continues.

“Where any notice is required, we submit a best case scenario that ensures preferential
treatment is limited would be for a general notice from digital platforms regarding major
changes to be provided to the world at large, via perhaps a blog post.”

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