Arts & Entertainment

Australia finalizes law to make Google, Facebook to pay for content

Sydney, Australia, Dec 8 (efe-epa).- The Australian government finalized a law on Tuesday to make online platforms such as Google and Facebook pay for the content they obtain from news outlets.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said under the new rule, which the government will table in parliament on Wednesday, technology companies would have to negotiate payments to local media for the content that they post on their digital platforms.

If both parties cannot reach an agreement, the government will appoint an intermediary to decide the amount to be paid.

“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Frydenberg said in a statement.

The measure aims to “support a diverse and sustainable Australian news media sector, including Australia’s public broadcasters.”

Google and Facebook have earlier expressed their opposition to the legislative changes.

The minister said the law would initially apply to Facebook NewsFeed and Google Search.

Other platforms, he said, could be added later “if there is sufficient evidence to establish that they give rise to a bargaining power imbalance.”

The measure comes in response to recommendations made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in a report in December 2019 on the impact that digital search engines, social media platforms, and other digital content aggregation platforms have on competition in media and advertising services markets.

In its report, the ACCC had said that digital platforms earned as much as 51 percent of the public spending in the sector after doubling their share in the last five years at the cost of local print media, whose share dropped from 33 to 12 percent in the same duration.

Facebook, the most popular social network in Australia, boasts of 17 million monthly users, around 68 percent of the total population, in the country, while second-place Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google collected 90 percent of search traffic generated on computers in Australia and 98 percent on mobile phones.

Like many other organizations and governments across the world, Australian authorities are concerned about Facebook and Google attracting large chunks of digital advertising revenue in a space where they do not produce the news material published on their platforms. EFE-EPA


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