(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s competition watchdog has promised to even up the market imbalance between news organisations and tech giants.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking feedback on a wide range of issues with a mandatory code of conduct, which will be in place later this year.
The rules will force Google and Facebook to pay for news content.
ACCC chair Rod Sims says the new regime would allow media organisations to bargain with tech giants over fees.
“We need to even up the bargaining,” he said on Tuesday.
“We need to give that teeth and make that work, and see as best we can to come up with the sort of outcome you’d have in a competitive market.”
Mr Sims declined to comment on News Corp Australia’s suggested price tag of $1 billion a year or Nine’s floated going rate of $600 million.
He said collective bargaining would be the most straightforward way to determine fees, but it could still result in arbitration.
“I’m not going to predict outcomes. What I am going to predict is we will even up that bargaining position and come out with a better position than we are in now,” he said.
Facebook and Google have a stranglehold on the digital advertising market and benefit greatly from the content of news publishers on their platforms.
Google argues it doesn’t make money from searches because only clicks on ads drive revenue.
Mr Sims said while direct benefits weren’t large, there were significant benefits stemming from the use of news.
“If you want to be the all-singing, dancing search engine, you need news so that when someone types in coronavirus, you get all the news articles,” he said.
“Otherwise it’s a pretty limp search.”
He said quality content from professional journalists was important to Google and Facebook.
“If you don’t have the news, then you might get a whole lot of fake news,” he said.
Notifying changes to the websites’ algorithms, data sharing, the use of content behind pay-walls, and the definition of news are among the other issues in the ACCC’s concepts paper.
A voluntary code was torpedoed earlier this year after negotiations between the watchdog and Google and Facebook broke down.