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How The ACCC Proposes To Make Google & Facebook Pay For Content

The ACCC has just released its concept paper for the mandatory code to address the bargaining power imbalances between Australia’s media companies and tech giants Google and Facebook.

The ACCC is seeking feedback on the ‘Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code’ concepts paper. Industry stakeholders have until the 5th June 2020 to have their say (submissions must be sent in writing to [email protected]).

The concept paper outlines potential bargaining frameworks that the ACCC may implement, including:
• Bilateral negotiation, with a dispute resolution mechanism in place;
• Collective bargaining, which would provide media companies with more bargaining power;
• Collective boycotting, also known as ‘all in/none in’, which would attempt to pressure Google and Facebook into more appropriate remuneration; or
• Collective licensing or fee arrangements, where media parties would enter collective arrangement for the payment of fixed fees.

Source: Nielsen (from ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry

In terms of remuneration, the ACCC will aim to take into account the direct and indirect value that the availability of news brings to Google and Facebook. However, the concept paper also pointed out that compensation negotiations will also take into account the value that the digital platforms provide to news businesses.

In the paper, the ACCC reveals that the coming mandatory code, due in November 2020, will focus on news content itself, rather than other content produced by media companies (such as horoscopes and crosswords).

Therefore, while many Australian media companies will produce at least some content that fits this definition, online the news portion will be subject to the bargaining code.

Initially, the bargaining code will only apply to Google Search and Facebook News Feed, but the ACCC may include Google News, YouTube, AMP, Google Assistant, Android TV, Google’s ad tech intermediary services, Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook Watch, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook News Tab.

“We are keen to tap views on all the issues and ideas involved with this code. Given the tight timeframe we are seeking precise views on the content of the code and this concepts paper will facilitate this,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

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