Australian Finance Minister, Josh Frydenberg, at a caucus meeting in Canberra, Australia, announced that the “News Media Bargaining Bill” will be sent to Parliament tomorrow. The latest bill is the first attempt to allow technology companies such as Google and Facebook to pay for news content used on their platforms. However, technology companies strongly opposed this, saying that they would no longer use Australian news content. Nevertheless, if the content is still free (that is, technology companies can use the content without paying), then media companies that need to pay content creators will lose money.
“The world is paying attention to what is happening in Australia,”…Friedenberg said when introducing the bill. According to Friedenberg, YouTube and Instagram are currently outside the scope of the bill. The new bill will initially apply to Google Search and Facebook’s NewsFeed. In the future, if there is sufficient evidence to prove that other digital platforms will cause unequal bargaining power, these platform services may also be included in the scope of the new bill.
Friedenberg said: “As the Secretary of the Treasury, I have the right to specify which services will be subject to the bill…Google Search and Facebook’s NewsFeed will be subject to the bill. The basis for choosing these two services is the unequal bargaining relationship between the platform and the media. While making this choice, I also listened to the suggestions of the Australian Consumer Council, the Ministry of Finance, and other institutions…”
Google and Facebook may stop using news from Australia
It is not clear how much other platforms need to pay media companies to use news content. Also, the government has not yet intervened in this matter. The new bill only establishes a regulatory framework for price negotiation. However, media companies still need to explore how to negotiate prices.
The official passage of the “News Media Bargaining Bill” still requires a vote in the Senate. In addition, Facebook and Google can still decide not to use this news content. If they accept to pay in Australia, it wouldn’t take long for other regions to require payment. Google and Facebook will most likely face similar situations in the U.S. and Europe should they accept.
This bill still has a lot of hurdles to pass before it becomes law. No doubt, Facebook and Google will try to frustrate the process because it will affect their business.