“Fundamentally Unbalanced”: Trump Administration Questions Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code

Atlanta, GA, USA - October 21, 2017:  A person wears a Donald Trump mask at the Little Five Points Halloween Parade on October 21, 2017 in Atlanta, GA.
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The US government has condemned Australia’s plans to make both Google and Facebook pay for news content, according to a parliamentary inquiry submission.

In the submission from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative regarding the News Media Bargaining Code, the U.S. government reveals it “is concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players in a fast-evolving digital market, to the clear detriment of two U.S. firms, may result in harmful outcomes”.

Similar to Google, the submissions specifically points to the proposed ‘baseball’ arbitration model as “fundamentally unbalanced”, pointing to the fact such arbitration will not take into consideration the costs of storing, processing and transmitting content, as well as developing the relevant software, for tech giants.

The submission also calls on the Australian government to further consider whether or not the code is necessary.

“In the view of the United States, it would be preferable to pursue additional market study and consultation to identify a specific market failure that might be addressed first though a voluntary code, and if demonstrably ineffective, through Australia’s regulatory rule-making process where stakeholders can participate by weighing in on options and providing evidence in support of or opposition to specific proposals,” the submission states.

“We respectfully request that Australia reconsider whether legislation is needed.”

The News Media Bargaining Code legislation is currently before a Senate committee for further inquiry.

Google going From the ‘CCP playbook’

Also opposed to the code, Google recently revealed it would start to bury search results for certain news stories for a small number of users.

There has also been reports that Google could start to cut out Australian users from upgrades.

Speaking to The Australian independent senator Rex Patrick slammed Google’s recent actions.

“Google’s behaviour is straight out of the Chinese Communist Party’s playbook, and it’s not appreciated,” Senator Patrick told The Australian.

Patrick will join five other cross-party senators as part of the inquiry into the News Media Bargaining Code legislation this week.

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