The Australian Government Friday unveiled a draft of the new mandatory code of conduct that would force tech giants Google and Facebook to pay for news on their platforms.
The document developed by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission will be open for public review through August 28 and go before Parliament for a vote shortly after. It has global implications for embattled publishers fighting for digital ad revenue.
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The news came as the tech giants late Thursday reported solid quarterly earnings that showed their massive reach, revenue and deep pockets. The day before, Google and Facebook CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai were grilled by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) about kneecapping the news business during a Congressional antitrust hearing.
The ACCC said the code aims “to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook.” It would apply only to those two companies at first but other digital platforms may be added “if they hold a significant bargaining power imbalance with Australian news media.”
It said the imbalance has forced “news media businesses to accept less favorable terms for the inclusion of news on digital platform services than they would otherwise agree to.” They could bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over payment.
“While bargaining power imbalances exist in other areas, the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and major digital platforms is being addressed as a strong and independent media landscape is essential to a well-functioning democracy,” the ACCC said.
The code also includes a set of minimum standards for: providing advance notice of changes to algorithmic ranking and presentation of news; appropriately recognizing original news content; and providing information about how and when Google and Facebook make available user data collected through users’ interactions with news content.
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