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Google and Facebook could be forced to pay Australian news publishers to distribute their content, in a landmark regulatory move from the country’s competition regulator.
The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission was tasked by the government earlier this year with developing a mandatory code for the tech giants to pay for their use of news content. If approved, a draft code announced by the ACCC Friday would allow Australian outlets to secure payments in a matter of months.
It is aimed at addressing “acute bargaining power imbalances” between news groups and Google and Facebook, the ACCC said. Under the rules, if the publishers and digital platforms are unable to agree a deal after three months of formal talks, a “final offer” arbitration process will be? initiated that results in the selection of the “most reasonable” offer in 45 business days.
“Our regulatory changes are designed to create a level playing field and a fair-go,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Friday. “We want the rules in the digital world to reflect the rules in the physical world. We want to ensure consumer protection is enhanced, competition is increased and of course we deliver a sustainable media environment for all Australians for the future.”
The move could see Australia become the first country to force Google and Facebook to pay for news content. It comes after talks between the online platforms, ACCC and media companies failed to result in agreement. The draft code will undergo a month-long consultation before being debated in parliament. If it is passed, it is expected to be reviewed in a year’s time.
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