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ACCC, Morrison Gov Crack Down On Tech Giants

The ACCC has urged Facebook and Google to reach an agreement with traditional media companies soon, or face intervention from the body, involving a mandatory code.

In a letter from the competition watchdog chairman Rod Sims to local CEO’s of Google and Facebook, the US-owned tech giants were told to advise the ACCC by the end of this month ‘the broad subjects proposed for negotiation [and] the potential format of commitments so they are enforceable,’ according to The Australian.

The letter comes after the Morrison government endorsed a raft of ACCC recommendations to limit the global tech giants’ market power in Australian digital markets, including a voluntary code.

(AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

‘It will be important to progress negotiations in good faith and as expeditiously as possible in order to meet these deadlines, noting that the government has indicated it will consider options, including imposing a mandatory bargaining code, if a suitable outcome is not reached within the expected timeframe,’ the letter stated.

The original recipients of the letter from Sims was Google Australia managing director Melanie Silva and Facebook managing director Will Easton, but it was leaked to media.

It stated that the ACCC wanted to be kept informed throughout the negotiation process, which it said should take place between February and April, to abide by the government’s expectations for an update by May.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, FILE)

‘While the conduct of the ­negotiations is a matter for and a responsibility of the platforms and news media businesses, the ACCC may intervene at any point should it believe negoti­ations are not progressing appropriately.’

Sims told The Australian that he was pleased with the government’s response, including a code that he felt was strong, but also claimed that the word voluntary may have caused confusion.

He said that voluntary did not suggest that the enforceable and if an agreement was not met, the government indicated it would introduce a mandatory code.

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Sipa USA)

Australian media organisation, including Nine (now owner of former Fairfax mastheads) and News Corp, have argued that the introduction of the mandatory code would protect the future of news publishers, saying digital giants should pay for content that attracts billions of users per year on their platforms.

(AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

(AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

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