ACCC Grants Interim Authorisation For Regional Publishers To Negotiate Collectively With Facebook And Google

The Australian competition authority authorises for local and regional publishers to negotiate collectively with the tech platforms over payment for news content.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced that it has authorised members Country Press Australia, an industry body representing independent regional and local newspapers throughout Australia, to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google, engage in discussions with each other and exchange information about those negotiations.

Without authorisation, these collective bargaining arrangements would risk breaching competition laws as no platforms have yet been ‘designated’ under the news bargaining code, which would automatically allow collective bargaining for news media businesses, the ACCC said.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said: “The ACCC considers that allowing CPA members to bargain collectively is likely to result in public benefits by enhancing negotiations between regional publishers and digital platforms, and thereby assisting the sustainability of regional news production.

“These public benefits align with the purpose of the news media bargaining code, which was intended to allow and encourage collective bargaining.”

“We welcome the fact that both Facebook and Google appear to be successfully reaching voluntary deals with Australian news businesses, including a number of smaller publishers, following the passage of the bargaining code. The onus now remains on Facebook and Google to continue to negotiate in good faith with news businesses of all sizes.” 

Following the interim authorisation, CPA members can now commence collective negotiations while the ACCC seeks feedback on CPA’s application for final authorisation.

The ACCC’s statement of reasons for the interim authorisation and more information on how to make a submission are available on the ACCC public register.