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Australia forces Facebook and Google to pay for news

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An Australian law giving the government the power to make internet giants Facebook and Google negotiate content supply deals with news outlets has largely worked, according to a report.

An Australian law that gives the government the power to make internet giants Facebook owner Meta Platforms and Alphabet Inc’s Google negotiate content supply deals with news outlets has largely worked, according to a government report.

But the law, which took effect in March 2021 after talks with big tech companies led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country, may need to be extended to other online platforms, according to the review.

Since the Media Trading Code went into effect, technology firms have entered into more than 30 agreements with media outlets compensating them for content that generated clicks and ad dollars, said the Treasury Department report, released Thursday by the night.

“At least some of these deals have allowed news companies, in particular, to employ additional journalists and make other valuable investments to help their operations,” the report says.

“While opinions on whether or not the Code is successful will always differ, we think it is reasonable to conclude that the Code has been a success to date.”

The report mainly recommended that the government consider new methods for evaluating the law’s administration and effectiveness, and did not suggest changing the law itself.

But he did point out that the law lacked “a formal mechanism to extend the Code to other platforms,” ​​and suggested that the government order the competition regulator, which led the design of the law, “to prepare reports on this issue.”

“The review shows that the Code has successfully balanced the bargaining power between the media and digital platforms,” ​​said Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones.

“Digital platforms must continue to negotiate in good faith with news companies to ensure they are fairly compensated for the news content they create.”

Google Australia’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Lucinda Longcroft, said the company had “increased our significant contribution to the Australian news industry” by signing deals representing 200 newspapers across the country and “most of these media are regional or local”.

Meta declined to comment.


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