Australia's political opposition to support Facebook, Google legislation

Joanna Estrada
February 17, 2021

In 2019, Facebook announced deals to pay some publishers to share stories inside a dedicated news section of its main app. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the plan at an event in NY with News Corp.'s Thomson.

"If the [Australian] law requires Google to pay to link people to websites, it's a slippery slope", wrote Mel Silva, the managing director for Google Australia, in a recent online post.

Meanwhile, Google has started paying select media outlets, including those in the U.K., Australia and Argentina, to display articles on its news app and has set aside $1 billion to cover the program's first three years.

A number of News Corp publications will join Google News Showcase, the tech giant's news product, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post in the USA, and the Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun in the U.K. In Australia, media companies such as the Australian, news.com.au and Sky News will be included in Google's product.

On Monday, Nine rival Seven West Media said it had reached a deal that local media reported would also involve the U.S. company paying it AUD 30 million (roughly Rs. 170 crores) a year.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday said the government would introduce "technical amendments" to the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill later this week to make it more "workable".

Several large domestic media players, including the local arm of Rupert Murdoch's News - which owns two-thirds of Australian newspapers - have yet to announce Google deals.

Google had previously attempted to reach a deal with News Corp and Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd but an agreement could not be reached with both parties.

Google did not provide the terms of its News Corp. deal Wednesday. "Publishers will in one way or another be paid for news".

Nine said in a statement it was having "constructive discussions" with Google and Facebook.

Google and News Corp. are continuing to battle in Australia over a similar issue.

Facebook has a comparable product called Facebook News, but it's not available in Australia. The Australian media outfit were hoping to capitalize on the new law that would have allowed the government to set the online giant's content fees in the absence of a private deal.

Frydenberg suggested that Google's threat to quit Australia had receded as the "speed of these negotiations has picked up".

Google says Australia's proposals go much further. "We never wanted that". "They are an important part of the digital landscape era".

"Any monies from these deals need to end up in the newsroom, not the boardroom", Strom said.

Google is facing pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for news.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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