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Australian news media to negotiate payment with major digital platforms

Australian media will be able to bargain with Google and Facebook to quickly secure fair payment for news content if a draft mandatory code released by the ACCC today is adopted.

The draft code is aimed at addressing acute bargaining power imbalances between Australian news businesses and Google and Facebook, including through a binding “final offer” arbitration process.

If the news businesses and the digital platforms cannot strike a deal through a formal three month negotiation and mediation process, then an independent arbitrator would choose which of the two parties’ final offer is the most reasonable within 45 business days.

This would ensure disagreements about payment for content are resolved quickly. Deals on payment could be reached within six months of the code coming into effect if arbitration is required.

The draft code would also allow groups of media businesses to collectively negotiate with the platforms. This could include, for example, regional and community mastheads.

While the draft code would initially apply only to Google and Facebook, other digital platforms may be added if they attain a bargaining power imbalance with Australian news media businesses in the future.

The release of the draft code follows lengthy and intense consultation both before and after the release of a concepts paper in May, which sought feedback on a range of options for the draft code. More than 40 submissions were received.

Further consultation on the draft mandatory code will take place during August, ahead of the code being finalised shortly after.