After meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Microsoft president Brad Smith says the company will back the proposed and controversial News Media Bargaining Code.
It’s a proposal that saw Google threaten to exit the Australian market if it is brought into law, but Microsoft—which owns search engine Bing—has said it will support the code.
In a publicly released letter, Microsoft president Brad Smith said he and chief executive Satya Nadella had met with PM Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to discuss the code.
During that conversation, Smith and Nadella said Microsoft would fully support the News Media Bargaining Code.
“The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses,” Smith writes.
“It also recognises the important role search plays, not only to consumers but to the thousands of Australian small businesses that rely on search and advertising technology to fund and support their organisations.
“While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us.”
Smith added: “We believe that the current legislative proposal represents a fundamental step towards a more level playing field and a fairer digital ecosystem for consumers, business, and society.”
Smith additionally said Microsoft would “invest further to ensure Bing is comparable to our competitors”.
In addition, Smith said Microsoft will ensure that small businesses who wish to transfer their advertising to Bing can do so simply and with no transfer costs.
“We recognise the important role search advertising plays to the more than two million small businesses in Australia,” he said.
Bing currently boasts a 3.7 per cent market share in the Australian market, compared to Google’s 94 per cent.
It comes after Smith and Nadella met with PM Morrison and Minister Fletcher on the possibility of expanding Microsoft’s search offering, Bing, in the Australian market.
“One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat,” Smith writes. “We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft’s growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success.”
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