- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission suggested that technology companies pay for news, but did not specify the amount.
- Facebook and Google strongly oppose the draft.
- The country's mass media support the draft.
The Australian Government has proposed a bill which would require Facebook and Google to pay for news. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the code would “create a level playing field” between the two.” Many news outlets have been shut down this year due to declining revenues.
“We want Google and Facebook to continue to provide these services to the Australian community, which are so much loved and used by Australians,” he said. “But we want it to be on our terms. We want it to be in accordance with our law and we want it to be fair.”
News outlets have also been forced to lay off workers. Facebook and Google strongly oppose the draft. As a result, they could be out of the Australian market. If the draft is approved, technology companies that do not pay for news are subject to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.
What does the Draft Contain?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission suggested that technology companies pay for news, but did not specify the amount. The draft wants news agencies to partner with technology companies to negotiate prices.
If a negotiated agreement cannot be reached, the Competition and Consumer Commission and the Media Regulatory Authority will intervene. The draft also states that technology companies should inform the media of the algorithms they charge.
A technology company can be fined up to $10 million for violations. Although the draft is currently focused on Facebook and Google, It can also be applied to other technical institutions.
“A change is needed for the future of the Australian media,” the draft said. “Governments around the world also hope to get the attention of lawmakers.” The country’s mass media support the draft. According to News Corp’s Michael Miller, Chief Media Officer, the days of “free eating” of technology are coming to an end.
“Our company is very upset by the draft,” said Mel Sylvia, Google’s local head. He also said that the idea will influence creativity. “Government intervention is a threat to Australia’s digital economy. It will also affect the services we provide to Australia,” he said.
He said that if Facebook was asked to pay for news, it would remove Australian news from the page. A one-month consultation period is open before the draft is tabled. He said he would appear before the council in August. If the draft law is approved, it will be reviewed a year later.
“The code contemplates that it could be one of more possibilities, it could be a fixed annual sum or it could be a payment per item of content,” said Communications Minister Paul Fletcher.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself but just as we’ve learnt from overseas hopefully they can learn from us,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.