Senate inquiry backs proposed media bargaining code
An Australian Senate committee has recommended the government’s proposed news media bargaining code be passed in full following an inquiry.
In a report handed down today, the senate committee recommended that the bill be passed after hearing from a wide group of parties including the ACCC, Google, Facebook, News Corp, Guardian Australia and the publisher of this website, Nine.
Under the proposed bill digital platforms would be required to pay media companies for content.
In its final comments the committee said the proposed code would “safeguard” journalism as an important component of democracy.
“Despite the concerns raised by various submitters and witnesses, the committee is confident that the bill will deliver on its intended outcomes,” the committee wrote.
“Its provisions will provide the basis for a more equitable relationship between the media and Google/Facebook and, through this, help safeguard public interest journalism in Australia.
The proposed code has elicited strong reactions from both Facebook and Google, the latter of which had claimed it would “break search” as we know it.
“If the Code were to become law in its current form, we would have no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Mel Silva, Managing Director of Google Australia, wrote in an open letter to the public.
“That is the last thing I or Google want to have happen—especially when there is a way forward that allows us to support Australian journalism without breaking Search.”
A spokesperson for Nine – the largest media company in Australia – said it welcomed the report.
“We welcome today’s Senate committee report which again highlights the need for action to level the playing field between Australian media and the global tech monopolies and ensure the ecosystem remains sustainable for those who create journalism,” said a Nine spokesperson.
“We want to thank the ACCC, the government and the Parliament who have all now examined the issues at play exhaustively. Now is the time for action and for the media code to be legislated.”
The bill is now set to be debated in the upper house next week and could pass as early as Tuesday.