To say the Australian government is beholden to certain media companies is a massive understatement. It should not come as a surprise to anyone then that the government has decided to do the bidding of said news companies and force Facebook and Google to remunerate them for using their content.
Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenburg, has instructed the ACCC to develop a code of conduct for digital platforms such as Google and Facebook. The code of conduct will be mandatory and has been brought on by a massive decrease in online advertising with the news corporations.
The new code will require digital platforms to negotiate “in good faith” on how to pay news media for use of their content, to advise said companies on algorithm changes that would affect content ratings in advance of any changes occurring, to favour original sources in page search results and to share data with these media companies.
The code was actually meant to be finalised in November this year but after negotiations led nowhere the government has asked the ACCC to step in. The new code will be mandatory instead of the originally proposed voluntary adherence and will include penalties and dispute mechanisms for negotiations between the two parties. The code also defines just what news content would be covered by the code and will include not just Google Search and Facebook but also Instagram and Twitter.
Mr Frydenburg has said that it is “only fair” that companies that created the content got paid for it in a bid to create a level playing field. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has more to say:
Digital platforms have fundamentally changed the way that media content is produced, distributed and consumed.
Digital platforms need to do more to improve the transparency of their operations for news media providers as they have a significant impact on the capacity of news media organisations to build and maintain an audience and derive resources from the media content they produce.
With many of Australia’s regional news papers having closed down during the COVID-19 pandemic this may help some of them stay open in the future but remember that a majority of Australia’s media is owned by a single entity — an entity that is still doing alright. We rely on a lot of this media to keep us informed on local issues
How this affects Ausdroid, I suspect we will all be getting Ferraris in our Christmas stockings this year with bonus yachts for editors of course. There does need to be a shift in how companies are remunerated for their content but with that there should also be checks and balances on said content being accurate and factually correct.