Australia wants tech giants Google and Facebook to pay media outlets for their content, an unprecedented move that could have global impact.
On Friday, Australia’s regulators announced that a legislation is being drafted which would allow news organizations in the country to receive compensation for their news content published on Google and Facebook. Also last week, CEOs of these tech companies, alongside Apple and Amazon, faced an antitrust hearing in the US Congress for allegations of using market dominance in dealing with competition.
According to a statement by chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, “There is a fundamental bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and the major digital platforms, partly because news businesses have no option but to deal with the platforms, and have had little ability to negotiate over payment for their content or other issues.”
Media publishers, with this legislation, would be allowed to negotiate with the two tech behemoths, and could enter arbitration if both sides would not meet eye-to-eye in a span of three months, per the proponents of the legislation, which is the ACCC. An independent arbitrator would mediate to see offers from both parties then proceed to settlement within 45 business days.
Last year, Australia asked Google and Facebook to talk an agreement with the media organizations, but remained unfruitful.
For competition’s sake
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted the global significance of this move, which will be likely viewed by the world. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses. It’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and sustainable media landscape.”
Google’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand Mel Silva responded with a statement saying, “It sends a concerning message to business and investors that the Australian government will intervene instead of letting the market work.” They deemed the decision as contributing “nothing to solve the fundamental challenges of creating a business model fir for the digital age.”
Facebook is yet to comment with the issue.
Among the news outlets that lobbied or this move to take place is Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News Corp. Michael Miller, executive chairman for News Corp Australia, commented that the country’s government is “taking world-first action” as other countries are criticizing unfair practices of the tech behemoths.
Reuters mentioned a study which saw 3,000 journ jobs for the past decade amid losing ad revenue to the tech companies.