Australian media will be able to bargain with Google and Facebook to quickly secure fair payment for news content if a draft mandatory code released by the ACCC is adopted.
The draft code is aimed at addressing acute bargaining power imbalances between Australian news businesses and Google and Facebook, including through a binding “final offer” arbitration process.
If the news businesses and the digital platforms cannot strike a deal through a formal three month negotiation and mediation process, then an independent arbitrator would choose which of the two parties’ final offer is the most reasonable within 45 business days.
The draft code would also allow groups of media businesses to collectively negotiate with the platforms. This could include, for example, regional and community mastheads.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims said “There is a fundamental bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and the major digital platforms, partly because news businesses have no option but to deal with the platforms, and have had little ability to negotiate over payment for their content or other
“In developing our draft code, we observed and learned from the approaches of regulators and policymakers internationally that have sought to secure payment for news.”
“We wanted a model that would address this bargaining power imbalance and result in fair payment for content, which avoided unproductive and drawn-out negotiations, and wouldn’t reduce the availability of Australian news on Google and Facebook.”
“We believe our proposed draft code achieves these purposes,” Mr Sims said.
While the draft code would initially apply only to Google and Facebook, other digital platforms may be added if they attain a bargaining power imbalance with Australian news media businesses in the future.
In responding to the announcement by the ACCC, a Nine spokesperson said “Nine welcomes the fact that the ACCC and the Government continue to push the agenda forward by recognising the importance of the regulatory and bargaining imbalances that exist between Australian media organisations and the dominate global digital platforms. We are confident that following this important step in the process we are positioned to achieve an outcome which will ensure significant long term benefits to our news organisation.”