Australia Passes New Socialized Media Law

  • “The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia.”
  • The ACCC opines that the new law will address “a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.”
  • Several countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and India, have shown interest in this law, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week.

Australia’s Parliament adopted a law Thursday that obliges Google and Facebook to pay Australian media for publishing their news content. The law is the world’s first such legislation. The Australian government introduced a series of changes to the bill on Tuesday (introduced in December), a week after Facebook blocked news in that country.

Australian media reforms pass after last-ditch changes

“The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.

Mr Frydenberg, the Liberal party’s deputy leader who was on the forefront in pushing for the new law, also tweeted:

The Morrison Government’s world-leading news media bargaining code has just passed the Parliament. This is a significant milestone. This legislation will help level the playing field & see Australian news media businesses paid for generating original content.

On it’s part, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) opines that the new law will address “a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.”

At the origin of the law for payments for journalistic content was an investigation by the ACCC that exposed the imbalance between advertising revenues obtained by technological companies— the likes of Google and Facebook— and the country’s local media.

According to the final ACCC report on digital platforms, published in December 2019, they accounted for 51% of advertising expenses in Australia in 2017.

Last May, Nine Media Group President Peter Costello said that Google and Facebook generate advertising revenue of around six billion Australian dollars (€3.9 billion), of which about 10% comes from news content.

The new legislation requires technology companies to negotiate with the media for consideration for publishing journalistic content on their platforms.

The amendments introduced on Tuesday give more scope for negotiation to the technological giants, establishing as a last resort the intervention of an arbitration panel to fix the amount to be paid, in case a commercial agreement is not reached. The platforms will have two months to negotiate agreements and avoid arbitration.

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg during morning media appearances in the Media Gallery at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, earlier this month.

The press association Country Press Australia, which represents 161 regional newspapers, fears, however, that smaller news organizations may be left unpaid, according to the Associated Press (AP) news agency.

Both Google and Facebook have already started to enter into agreements with Australia’s largest media outlets. Google agreed to pay “significant sums” in return for the contents of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. communications group.

Several countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and India, have shown interest in this law, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week.

The law is currently designed to target Facebook and Google specifically, but in the future it could be expanded to other platforms “where fundamental bargaining power imbalances with Australian news businesses emerge.” 

Vincent othieno

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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