The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content.
In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first 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,” Frydenberg said. “Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake with these changes.”
If the US-based platforms cannot agree with Australian media businesses on pricing after three months, arbitrators would be appointed to make a binding decision, the draft says.
The draft is to be open to consultation until Aug. 28, with the legislation to be introduced to the Australian parliament soon after, Frydenberg said.
As well as payment, the code covers issues including access to user data, and transparency of algorithms.
Breaches could attract penalties of up to 10 percent of a platform’s annual turnover or a A$10 million (US$7.2 million) fine.
Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Mel Silva said that the code discounts the value Google provides in free clicks on publishers’ content.
“Our hope was that the code would be forward thinking and the process would create incentives for both publishers and digital platforms to negotiate and innovate for a better future, so we are deeply disappointed and concerned the draft code does not achieve this,” Silva said in a statement. “Instead, the government’s heavy-handed intervention threatens to impede Australia’s digital economy.”
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