ACCC proposes to authorise CRA to collectively bargain with Google and Facebook

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to authorise Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google over payment for their member stations’ news content featured on the platforms.

CRA currently represents 261 member stations and the determination will authorise them to collectively negotiate on behalf of all of its members, other than stations operated by Nine Entertainment, for a period of 10 years.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims, says, “This authorisation gives CRA the opportunity to seek payment from Facebook and Google for its members’ news content and for its members to engage in discussions with each other about those negotiations.”

CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner welcomed the ACCC’s announcement, and says, “CRA now has the opportunity to act as the bargaining agent for CRA members to secure fair compensation for individual publishers for content they produce that appears on the digital platforms, to reflect the value of that content and the resources required to produce that content.”

“Negotiated outcomes providing compensation from Google and Facebook will help to sustain commercial radio stations in Australia, many of whom provide small and local communities with regional news and information.”

Without authorisation, these arrangements risk breaching competition laws because no digital platforms have yet been ‘designated’ under the news bargaining code. Designation automatically allows collective bargaining for news media businesses.

This follows the ACCC’s decision to grant authorisation to Country Press Australia to bargain with Facebook and Google on behalf of its members on 5 August 2021, after Country Press was also initially granted interim authorisation on 29 April 2021.

Rod Sims says, “The passage of the news media bargaining code in early 2021 provided an incentive for the major digital platforms to pay media organisations for the news content displayed on their platforms.

 “The ACCC will continue to consider authorisation requests from groups of Australian news media businesses that produce public interest journalism to ensure more efficient and effective negotiations with the digital platforms.”

 The ACCC invites submissions in response to the draft determination by 30 September 2021.


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