Statement: Australia Passes News Media Bargaining Code, Platforms Must Pay for News

Today, the Australian Parliament voted to pass the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) news media bargaining code, which requires the dominant tech platforms to, among other things, negotiate with and compensate news publishers in Australia for use of their content online.

News Media Alliance President and CEO, David Chavern, stated, “This is a significant moment for democracy, and a major turning point in the global effort to sustain local journalism. With this bill, Australian news publishers of all sizes will finally receive the compensation they deserve, which will allow them to continue to reinvest in delivering critical news to the public.

“Quality journalism is more important than ever, with the prevalence of misinformation on many platforms threatening to overtake important factual information and investigative journalism. We view this code as a model for other countries to follow, and we commend Australia for its commitment to preserving journalism and its tenacity in pushing for a more competitive digital marketplace that does not allow a few dominant players to exert their will over others.”

ACCC drafted the proposed bargaining code last year at the Australian government’s request and introduced it to Parliament in December 2020. On February 12, 2021, the Australian Parliament’s Economics Legislation Committee released its report, which recommended that the bill be adopted. The report stated that the bill reflects a growing international recognition of the importance of public interest journalism and would “provide the basis for a more equitable relationship between the media and Google/Facebook” and help ensure the sustainability of public interest journalism in the country.

Chavern added, “We look forward to seeing progress in the U.S. on similar legislation that would allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with the tech platforms for fair compensation for their content.”

Facebook announced on February 17 that it would restrict sharing news on its platform in Australia in response to the bargaining code, but reversed its decision days later following widespread criticism. Google has begun reaching agreements with some publishers to pay them for use of their content.

Chavern continued, “This bill will help the smaller, local publishers that the platforms would not want to pay – this way, all publishers will be compensated.”

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