Australia passes law to make Google, Facebook pay for news
Australia is preparing to implement a new law that requires Google and Facebook to pay for news, although the architect of the measure says it will take time for the tech giants to finalize deals with the media.
Parliament on Thursday approved final amendments to the so-called News Media Negotiation Code that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to on Tuesday.
In exchange for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australians from accessing and sharing news on the platform.
Rod Sims, the competition regulator who wrote the code, said he was pleased that the law addresses the imbalance in the marketplace between Australian print news media and the two internet giants.
“All the signs are positive,” Sims stated.
“The objective of the code is to attend to the market power that Google and Facebook obviously have. Google and Facebook need the media, but they don’t need any particular media outlet, and that meant that media companies couldn’t make trade deals, ”added the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Parliament had already passed the rest of the law, so it can be implemented.
Google has already closed deals with major Australian news outlets in recent weeks, including News Corp. and Seven West Media.
Frydenberg expressed satisfaction with the progress shown by Google and more recently Facebook in finalizing trade deals with the Australian media.
But Country Press Australia, which represents 161 regional newspapers across the country, has expressed concern that small publications that circulate outside of big cities could be marginalized.
Sims noted that he is not surprised that the platforms closed their deals with companies in large cities first.
“I don’t see a reason why anyone should doubt that this will benefit all journalism,” Sims said.
“There are things that take time. Google and Facebook do not have unlimited resources to go negotiate with everyone. I think this will take time to develop, “he added.
Chris Moos, a professor at Oxford University Business School, said the most recent amendments signify “a small victory” for Zuckerberg.
Moos said the move would likely result in small payments for most Australian media. But Facebook could again block the publication of Australian news if the negotiations break down.
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