Tuesday, 08 December 2020 06:37

Govt yields to some demands from digital platforms over media code Featured

Govt yields to some demands from digital platforms over media code Pixabay

Digital platforms Google and Facebook have managed to change a number of terms in the news media code, which has been given the name News Media and Digital Platforms Bargaining Code, with the government giving ground on the interval for informing publishers of algorithm changes.

This has been reduced from 28 days to 14 days, according to reports about a briefing given to some Coalition backbenchers by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Monday.

Another concession is that digital platforms will be able to factor in the value of the service they provide to a news organisation in monetary terms before the quantum of payment is decided.

And a third is that the legislation will cover only Google and Facebook after it is passed, presumably sometime in 2021. YouTube, Twitter and Instagram will not be covered under the law.

However, the government has still retained the method of arbitration it originally proposed; Google had objected strongly to having this kind of arbitration where one side's solution is accepted.

In other changes to the code, which will be presented to the Coalition party room on Tuesday before it is presented in Parliament on Wednesday, the ABC and SBS will also be able to claim money from the digital companies.

Both Labor and the Greens had indicated that they would not back the legislation if the two public broadcasters were not covered.

News organisations generating more than $150,000 a year in revenue and engaged in public interest journalism can register with ACMA to negotiate with Google and Facebook via arbitration.

The code was formulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Frydenberg announced on 31 July that a mandatory code would be drafted by the ACCC to make digital platforms pay for the news content they used from local publishers, as the creation of a voluntary code was not making any progress.

At the time he said Google and Facebook would have to fork out big fees to traditional news outlets, or face fines of up to 10% of their local turnover which could come to as much as $10 million.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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