Google and Facebook to pay for news from Australian Media

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The Australian government released a draft mandatory code of conduct that would give  Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with Australian media businesses to decide on fair pay for news content. 

The government’s new regulation aims to succeed where other countries have failed in making the global digital giants pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Google and Facebook would be the first digital platforms targeted by the proposed legislation but others could follow.

“It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable media landscape,” he said.

“Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake with these changes,” Treasurer added.

The draft suggests that If the U.S.-based platforms could not agree with the Australian media businesses on pricing after three months, arbitrators would be appointed to make a binding decision.

The draft will be open to consultation until Aug. 28, with the legislation to be introduced to Parliament soon after. Along with the provisions of payment, the proposed legislation covers issues including access to user data and transparency of algorithms used to rank and present media content.

Breaches of the code could attract penalties of up to 10% of the platform’s annual turnover or a $7.2 million fine. Frydenberg said the motive was not to protect Australian businesses from competition or disruption but to ensure they are paid fairly for original content.

The conservative government is pushing ahead with the changes after the pandemic created an advertising revenue crisis for many Australian media companies.