The Morrison Government has revealed the details of the mandatory News Media Bargaining Code, which will see both Google and Facebook forced to negotiate payments to local media businesses.
In an announcement yesterday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said the code will “ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate”.
Under the code, Facebook and Google will be encouraged to negotiate payments with local media businesses.
The Code will initially apply to Facebook NewsFeed and Google Search, with the possibility of other digital services being added in the future.
It was also revealed prior to the announcement that ABC and SBS will now be included in the code.
The code also stipulates that an independent arbiter be used to determine the final payment if the two parties are unable to reach an agreement.
Frydenberg said the independent arbitrator would need to factor in the “two-way value exchange” before reaching their final decision.
The inclusion of the two-way value exchange has been described by some as a win for Google, which has campaigned heavily to promote the role it plays in directing traffic to these media businesses.
In the Nine-owned AFR, a Nine spokesperson disputed the two-way value exchange.
“The notion [Facebook and Google] receive regulatory recognition with the so-called two-way value exchange, for something they already have a commercial model to monetise, seriously undermines the fundamental problem the ACCC identified in the beginning of this process – that is an abuse of monopoly power which fundamentally harms the future sustainability of media in Australia,” the spokesperson said.
Despite Nine disputing the inclusion of the two-way value exchange, the media industry has generally welcomed the announcement.
Seven West Media CEO James Warburton, said: “The Morrison Government should be congratulated for its pioneering and innovative News Media Bargaining Code. It’s a sensible and fair proposal, as it should be. The revised Code provides the concessions to the digital platforms that they have been asking for. There’s now no reason for Facebook or Google to be unwilling to negotiate fair agreements. Australians will be the winners under the Code, with local media businesses that produce local news and content and support local jobs now provided with a pathway to a sustainable future.”
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller also praised the move.
“This important News Media Bargaining Code legislation is a significant step forward in the decade-long campaign to achieve fairness in the relationship between Australian news media companies and the global tech giants.
“All we have ever sought is a fair commercial outcome and fair payment for the valuable news content our journalists create. I believe this code puts in place the framework for this to be achieved,” he said.
“As a result of their lobbying, the tech platforms have won concessions, and there should be nothing stopping them now from reaching fair commercial agreements. Ultimately, this Code will benefit Australian consumers by helping sustain Australian news from Australian media companies.”
Facebook Australia managing director Will Easton said: “We’re reviewing the draft legislation tabled by the Australian Government. We’ll continue to engage through the upcoming parliamentary process with the goal of landing on a workable framework to support Australia’s news ecosystem.”
Google is expected to comment once the revised code is made available in its entirety.
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