Australian regulators have introduced a draft bill that would require Google and Facebook to pay Australian media outlets for news. The bill has been drafted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as an amendment to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The main objective of the bill is to address the issue of imbalance in bargaining power between Australian news businesses and digital platforms. According to the bill, the news media organizations will first notify the digital platforms of their intention to begin the bargaining process. They will have three-months for the negotiation and mediation process. Media organizations can form groups as well to collectively bargain with the platforms. However, if the negotiation process does not yield any result, the matter can be taken up for arbitration as well. The draft code of conduct will initially extend only to Facebook and Google.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Australia will become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content provided by media companies under a royalty-style system that will become law this year. But digital platforms are not in favor of this bill. Melanie Silva, managing director of Google in Australia and New Zealand said, “The government’s heavy-handed intervention threatens to impede Australia’s digital economy and impacts the services we can deliver to Australians.”
The legislation will undergo a public consultation phase before being introduced in the Australian Parliament.