Tech Platforms To Share Advertising Revenue With Australian Local Media

Australia has announced that it is set to force Facebook and Google to share their advertising revenue with local publishers.

Reuters reported that Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said the move followed after talks with Facebook and Alphabet failed to produce a voluntary code to address complaints by domestic media outlets that the tech platforms were not giving publishers a fair reward for their content which they benefit from.

Mr Frydenberg said: “We understand the challenge that we face, this is a big mountain to climb. These are big companies that we are dealing with but there is also so much at stake, so we’re prepared for this fight.”

The Australian government has asked their country’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to draft a mandatory code of conduct between news media outlets and digital platforms.

Mr Frydenberg said the code would include sharing of data, ranking and display of news content and the sharing of revenue generated from news, adding that it would also establish penalty and binding dispute resolution mechanisms.

Speaking at a DCMS oral evidence session yesterday, culture secretary, Oliver Dowden said: “I’m aware in outline of the Australian scheme and it’s something that I’m looking at myself to understand the applicability, potentially.”

In The Times Leader Article today, the Paper called for tech giants to be made to pay for their use of the work of others.

It said: “Publishing has been changed beyond recognition by each succeeding wave of technology and the transition is not always smooth.

 “Regulators and policymakers have struggled to adapt to the presence online of vast tech companies that disseminate material while demanding they be spared the demands of being deemed a publisher. In Australia the government has announced that the tech giants will be forced to share their revenues with other media companies, the original sources of the content. This is a bold move that ought to be copied in Britain.

 “In addition to the fact that tech companies are freeriding on the work of others, there is a clear case here of market dominance. Facebook and Google between them now take more than two-thirds of the digital advertising revenue in Britain.

“This was a serious problem before the coronavirus struck but the lockdown is making life increasingly hard for print newspapers, especially local titles, as sales and advertising fall simultaneously.

“The gathering of news is a democratic necessity and there should be no objection to those who profit from it, as tech companies do, paying a fairer price. It is all very well for Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, to urge people to buy newspapers during the pandemic but it is not enough. He has a serious issue on his hands that the coronavirus is quickening and exacerbating. The market for news is not producing an outcome that a thriving democracy should want. The government should act and Australia points the way.”

Commenting on Australia’s announcement, Damian Collins MP, the former chairman of the culture select committee, said: “We need to redress the balance between tech platforms and news companies. There needs to be more of a level playing field.

 “This is something we should have been doing anyway, but the coronavirus has massively affected the news media. We’re seeing papers going out of print. The entire ad revenue-funded model for news content has been massively challenged – it makes the case for action even more urgent.”