Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg [pictured] has accused Google and Facebook of ‘changing the goalposts’ in relation to the News Media Bargaining Code and has said it is ‘inevitable’ that these tech giants will have to start paying for news content.
Speaking for the first time since Google sensationally threatened to withdraw its Search offering from the Australian market on Friday, Frydenberg reinforced the government’s stance on the code.
“We don’t respond to threats,” Frydenberg said.
“We have worked with the ACCC very carefully over more than two years now to come up with a proposal for a mandatory code which will see the digital giants pay for original content that is generated by our media businesses, as you would expect it to do.
“This is a very carefully considered proposal, put forward after months and months of detailed deliberation. My view is that it is inevitable that the digital giants will be paying for original content and the choice for Australia, as we can be world leaders as we are with our report, and first off the rank when it comes to putting in place such a code.”
Frydenberg also responded to Google’s specific concerns around the code, which have mainly been around the proposed ‘baseball’ arbitration model and a requirement that tech giants must give news organisations 14 days’ notice of any algorithmic changes.
“It seems the digital giants keep changing the goalposts,” he said.
“Originally they were against what we were putting forward on algorithms, then they were against what we were putting forward on a final arbitration model. Now, it seems they are against paying for any clicks on search.
“They keep changing the goalposts, and if the clicks for media content is such a small proportion of their overall clicks on the search, then ultimately, the independent arbiters will find that it should reflect that payment for content reflecting the benefit to Google, to Facebook, from having that media content on their sites.”
The government is currently awaiting a report from the senate committee on the code before the code is turned into law.
While Google has led the protest against the code, Facebook has also taken a public position against the new rules.
Afetr threatening to withdraw its News offering from the local market, Facebook Australia & New Zealand managing director Will Easton last week said the code remains “unworkable“.
“Unfortunately, the latest version still fails to acknowledge the commercial and technical realities of how publishers use Facebook and the value we provide to them,” Easton said.
“Ultimately the legislation does not provide solutions that will help the news industry over the long-term.”
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