Google and Facebook Inc. will be forced to pay media companies in Australia for publishing their news, the country’s treasurer said on Monday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that negotiations between the tech giants and traditional media platforms had made limited progress toward reaching a voluntary arrangement and the competition watchdog would unveil a draft code by the end of July.
He aid the government was “very conscious of the challenges” of forcing the companies to pay for news content, after efforts in France and Spain had failed. The payment model could be based on the cost of preparing journalistic content, or the value added to the digital platform by using it, he said.
The Autralian government has asked the country’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to frame a mandatory code of conduct between media outlets and digital platforms after talks stalled on content payment rules.
Frydenberg said the mandatory code will include sharing of data, ranking and display of news content and the sharing of revenue generated from news, adding that it would also establish penalty and binding dispute resolution mechanisms.
Regulators worldwide have been trying to loosen the tech giants’ grip on everything from advertising and search engines to news, data and elections.
Facebook said it had been working to reach a voluntary agreement and had already announced investments to support news organizations struggling with declining advertising revenue.
“We believe that strong innovation and more transparency around the distribution of news content is critical to building a sustainable news ecosystem,” Will Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement. “We’ve invested millions of dollars locally to support Australian publishers through content arrangements, partnerships and training for the industry and hope the code will protect the interests of millions of Australians and small businesses that use our services every day.”
Google said that search results are most valuable to consumers when they are determined by relevance, rather than commercial arrangements.
“Since February, we have engaged with more than 25 Australian publishers to get their input on a voluntary code and worked to the timetable and process set out by the ACCC,” a spokesperson for the company said, referring to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. “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.”