Australia to force Google and Facebook to pay for content



Josh Frydenberg

Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg says that the government is working on a new code that will force OTTs like Facebook and Google to pay media companies for its content.

The news announced earlier this week will mandate that the big OTTs and social media giants enter into a rev share agreement with local media companies for using its content on its platforms.

Frydenberg (pictured) says the moves comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) failed to reach a resolution between the two parties forcing the government to take stringent action.

Speaking to press in a live video interview, Frydenberg said:

“What we want to see is a level playing field. What we want to see here is a fair go for the companies and for the journalistic content that is prepared.

“Australia has seen, just like the rest of the world, the rise of these social media giants and that has brought into question the adequacy of regulatory framework and the viability of traditional media outlets.”

“We asked the ACCC to engage in discussions with the stakeholders to reach a voluntary code of conduct, that hasn’t made meaningful progress so now we are taking the decisive decision to create a mandatory code, seeking to become the first country in the world to ensure that these social media giants pay for content.”

The ACCC has again been tasked with developing the mandatory code and it will include sharing of data, ranking and display of news content and the sharing of revenue generated from news, as well as penalty and dispute resolution rules.

In response Facebook released a statement saying: “We’re disappointed by the government’s announcement, especially as we’ve worked hard to meet their agreed deadline”.


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This was then supported by an emailed statement by Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand who said: “We’ve invested millions of dollars locally to support Australian publishers through content arrangements, partnerships and training for the industry”.

For its part Google said: “We have sought to work constructively with industry, the ACCC and government to develop a code of conduct, and we will continue to do so in the revised process set out by the government today”.

Interestingly Australia isn’t the first to attempt to make a similar arrangement. Spain previously attempted to make OTTs pay publishers, Google responded by withdrawing its Google news service.

When France tried to the same both Google and Facebook refused to pay to show photos or video and text snippets alongside links to articles shared by its users.

Although Frydenberg acknowledges that this didn’t work for France and Spain and “haven’t been successful” that Australia “won’t bow to their threats”.

“This is a big mountain to climb,” he added. “These are big companies that we are dealing with but there is also so much at stake, so we’re prepared for this fight.”

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