The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is proposing a new policy on media and news content publishing that will require digital platforms to pay news content creators for permission to post it on a social networking site or the search engine.
Facebook, the top social media sharing platform, is cautious about this new rule and is warning its Australian users about the consequences of it. If the rule is pushed through and the social network is obliged to pay for content from media publishers, then the latter will be forced to eliminate the ability of its Australian consumer market to share local and world news.
The tension among the involved parties has been gradually growing since the release of the announcement on July 31. The representative of Facebook in Australia and New Zealand said that the company’s take on the rule is their last resort. Much to their dismay, it is the rational decision to safeguard the company’s interests.
Google also does not agree with the rule and utilized the home page for the search engine in Australia to send word of awareness to its users about the changes that it will make on their experience on the search engine and on YouTube.
“Australian media will be able to bargain with Google and Facebook to quickly secure fair payment for news content if a draft mandatory code released by the ACCC today is adopted,” as stated in the public release.
The draft proposal grants permission for media outlets to demand payment from Facebook and Google, among others, for their news content. If both parties fail to come to an agreement in a span of 3 months, an arbitrator would meddle and settle the dispute. Facebook and Google share the same opinion on the mandate that it was biased and favored the media outlets more even though both tech companies contribute to support in promoting their content. Facebook reportedly offered to expand the Facebook News feature to Australia in which a similar system of paying for news content is used, but the offer was neglected.
Facebook stated in their public release: “We share the Australian Government’s goal of supporting struggling news organizations, particularly local newspapers, and have engaged extensively with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that has led the effort.”
But the Australian regulators insist that the mandate was necessary to keep the local news platforms afloat. Many outlets have reduced or completely ceased their operations since January of last year and it was partly attributed to the transition of news consumption mediums from offline to online. People spend the majority of their time on the Internet and this has gravely impacted the media and journalism industry. The ACCC published a review expounding the issue.
“While the draft code would initially apply only to Google and Facebook, other digital platforms may be added if they attain a bargaining power imbalance with Australian news media businesses in the future,” says the ACCC.
Finalization for the legislation is ongoing, and it will be forwarded to the parliamentary government branch where it will be voted upon as to whether or not it will be made into law.