Media Chiefs Hail Australia’s Big Tech Announcement

April 21, 2020 Updated: April 21, 2020

Australian news companies have hailed the federal government’s decision to compel the tech giants to pay for content.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, along with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, issued a joint statement on April 20 instructing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a code of conduct.

The code will govern a range of issues, one of the most prominent being how Google and Facebook will pay media publishers for re-using their content.

The original timeframe was accelerated when the federal government received advice from the ACCC that progress was slow, and compounded by the onset of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, in a statement said that Google and Facebook had built “trillion-dollar businesses” by using content from other organisations while not paying for it.

“The decisive move by the Australian government to go directly to a mandatory code of conduct … is a vital step that can help secure the future of Australian journalism,” he said.

James Warburton, CEO of Seven West Media, which owns Channel Seven, welcomed the move and said it was an internationally leading initiative.

“In the past month, our news content alone has reached millions of Australians,” he said. “It’s only right when this is accessed via third party platforms its creators are fairly compensated.”

Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine Television Network, said his network looked forward to working with the Australian government on the code.

Disappointment from Tech Giants

Google refuted the treasurer’s claim that “progress on a voluntary code has been limited,” claiming that since February 2020, the company has been seeking input from 25 Australian publishers on a voluntary code.

They conceded they would now continue to work with the ACCC and the government going forward.

Will Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, expressed disappointment at the announcement, saying they were making progress with the previously set deadline.

He highlighted that Facebook has “invested millions of dollars locally to support publishers through content arrangements, partnerships, and training for the industry.”

The ACCC will release a draft of the code at the end of July for consultation.