NEWS MEDIA BARGAINING CODE
Published by: SHIVENDRA SINGH CHOUHAN
The proposed code on media which was freshly brought up by Australia has incited a storm of discussion about as to, What does it mean? Why it is needed? What is its framework? Is it a sanction for some or reward for all or vice versa ? etc. We leave all these question to your understanding and try to bring in here a clear picture about the new media code passed by Australia, what is it , why it was needed and its complete analysis.
The dispute was going on between Google, Facebook and the Australian Government. What is this dispute? The code which is brought up by Australia is the NEWS MEDIA BARGAINING CODE. If it gets passed then the social media giants such as Google and Facebook have to negotiate or bargain with the news organization to get there content and have to pay them for it. This code gives the power into the hands of the content creators to negotiate the prices for selling or publishing their content. The code is specifically codified for giving boost to the sluggish growing local media industry which have accused the large tech giants such as Google and Facebook, for using their content without giving them any remuneration. The code has been developed by the competition watchdog agency ACCC after the local media houses and the dominating technological giants didn’t reached to any consensus. The Government proposed the legislation in December 2020 after conducting a full fledged investigation by the Senate Committee into the matter. The Central Government found that the tech giants are having a large chunk of market share in their hand and it can be a potential threat to a well functioning democracy.
GROUPS TOOK CHARGE FOR THE CHANGE
There were several media houses which came forward and forced the government to draft such code for the benefit of the media houses and small groups. One such group which played a pivotal role in this is the News Corp Australia. They gave a very strong reason to bring this code, they said that they pay there employees, media persons, editors etc to collect and compile news. When this news gets circulated through online platforms such as there websites, Facebook, Google then people usually just get the news on these social media platform rather then going to the websites and read, so these social media platform is a great source of income if these local media houses get a portion of the it. The local media houses are also not getting advertising which have caused serious impact as these big giants have captures majority of the market share of advertising. According to the latest report if $100 are spent for any kind digital advt in Australia then $81 goes to these technological like Google and Facebook and the rest is distributed between the other media networks which is comparatively peanuts. The recent Covid-19 pandemic have made it even worse. More then 150 news papers have been turned completely online and their print edition is totally shut down.
HOW TECH GIANTS RESPONDED
These tech giant on the other hand have argued that these snippet on Google Search have indirectly benefit to the media houses only because the people tends to get better reach due to the shortlisting of specific material which the user needs. The update on this debate was received on 21 Jan 2021 when Google threatened to exit Australia which will effect the user experience and user will get degraded search results. This was earlier done by Google in China. Google also claimed that if this code get passed then it would be very difficult for them to manage expenses and it may result in exit of Google from Australia. In the Senate Committee Google claimed again and again that the snippet which they show indirectly benefit the businesses such as hotel, restaurants, medical, hospital, media etc. They argued that this is against the idea of working ethics of internet as internet is a place for free flow of ideas and content, rather then managing the media houses this will incur extra burden on us.
The Australian Lawmakers have clearly hammered Google and Facebook and straightway told them that Australia is a sovereign nation and it has all the authorities to makes rules and regulation in every internal matter and these tech giants cannot blackmail the Government and force them to work as per their wish. PM Scott Morrison told “Australia makes its own rules for what is to be done is Australia”.
This move was widely expected and comes days after the government introduced some last-minute amendments to the proposed bill, known officially as the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.
“The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.
They added that the government is “pleased to see progress by both Google and more recently Facebook in reaching commercial arrangements with Australian news media businesses.”
The law is will be reviewed by the Treasury after one year of its commencement which is ensured by the Government.
Australia now becomes the only country where a government-appointed arbitrator will decide as to what the final price will be, that either platform is subject to remunerate the publishers. As we all know that a commercial deal cannot be reached independently without any proper official negotiation. The decision will be passed by a ruling in favor of either parties (the digital platform or the publisher) with no space for a dual profit agreement, according to the experts. The amendments which were introduced recently, the government said that the parties involved will get a two month mediation period to break deals before they are ask to get into arbitration as a last solution available.
The last minute amendment have resorted thing from both ends. The step taken by the Australian Government has been welcomed by several different platforms one such is Microsoft. Microsoft President Brad Smith backed Australia’s decision, claiming the newly introduced law as “a big step forward.” He said it in a tweet that it would “ensure publishers and journalists get paid a fairer share for their work.”.
Now the main concern which arises is about the getting things into action. As both sides have agreed on the code, now we have to look at its implementation, As to how the big giants will ensures the share of media groups which would not only include the big media houses but also smaller one’s. Will this code will be successful in ensuring the share for smaller entities or in other words we can say that will these smaller platforms will able to put their demand forward and reach to a amicable conclusion or else the big giant will dominate the decision making procedure. The intention behind making of this code is clearly productive as the shares reaching the media groups were significantly low. Now this code will at least provide them a platform to negotiate and earns there hard earned profit of their genuine content.