Australia to force Google and Facebook to pay for news content

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Facebook and Google both make huge amounts of money through advertising, and the Australian government feels this money should be shared with the smaller players the companies benefit from.

Specifically, digital platforms such as Google and Facebook will be required to pay news outlets for the content they produce. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told the government that initial plans for a voluntary code of conduct were unlikely to work, hence the move to a mandatory code. The move by the Australian government could well lead to similar moves in other countries.

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Australia views this as a chance to "level the playing field", reports ABC News. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: "It's only fair that those that generate content get paid for it".

In December, the ACCC was tasked with drawing up a voluntary code of conduct which was due to be finalized this November. But with negotiations between parties progressing slowly and with little agreement having been reached, it was decided that a mandatory code was required.

As the Guardian reports, the mandatory code is the same as the voluntary one that had been proposed, but includes added penalties for non-compliance.

Communications minister, Paul Fletcher, said:

Digital platforms have fundamentally changed the way that media content is produced, distributed and consumed. Digital platforms need to do more to improve the transparency of their operations for news media providers as they have a significant impact on the capacity of news media organisations to build and maintain an audience and derive resources from the media content they produce.

Facebook is, perhaps unsurprisingly, unhappy with the move. Will Easton, managing director, Facebook Australia and New Zealand told AdNews: "We're disappointed by the government's announcement, especially as we’ve worked hard to meet their agreed deadline".

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