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Albanese Government must get serious about reining in digital platforms

Joint media release

Hon Angus Taylor MP, Shadow Treasurer
Senator the Hon Sarah Henderson, Shadow Minister for Communications

Treasury’s review of the News Media Bargaining Code (Code) has confirmed that the scheme established by the former Coalition government has substantially reined in the power of global digital platforms, delivering major benefits for public interest journalism in Australia. 

The Code, which gives the government the power to “designate” digital platforms and compel them to fairly remunerate news organisations for the content they generate, has led to Google and Meta voluntarily entering into more than 30 commercial agreements with Australian media companies. These deals are valued in total at more than $200 million a year. 

The review found these agreements would not have been possible without the Code.  

The Code, a world-first, has been so successful in addressing the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and news media businesses that Canada and the United Kingdom are now in the process of enacting a similar code. Adoption of these laws is also being considered in the United States (excluding large news organisations) and a number of other countries. 

While the review recommended the ACCC should have greater information-gathering powers about commercial agreements, the Albanese Government has failed to address Meta’s refusal to enter into agreements with a number of news organisations including SBS. 

The government has also failed to identify the need to ensure that media companies are remunerated for all of their content published on digital platforms, including television news stories on Facebook Watch, Instagram and YouTube. 

“The government’s failure to hold Meta to account for refusing to finalise commercial agreements with SBS and The Conversation is not good enough.  It is particularly unimpressive that the minister is not prepared to stand up for SBS for which she is directly responsible,” Shadow Minister for Communications, Senator Henderson said. 

“In the face of Meta’s reluctance to appropriately embrace the Code, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland needs to lift her game.  The government should be putting Meta on notice that it will be designated unless commercial agreements with all news organisations are finalised,” Senator Henderson said. 

“The News Media Bargaining Code shows the Coalition is absolutely determined to combat the anti-competitive conduct of the big tech platforms” Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor said. 

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