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Australia will compel Google, Facebook to pay media outlets for news content

The country’s competition watchdog ACCC was tasked to come up with a mandatory code of conduct for tech platforms,

SNS | New Delhi |

Imagine if you typed your query on Google and the results presented does not include any information from the national or local media companies.

Weird isn’t? If that happens, how useful the platform Google would be then?

Now imagine the same with Facebook. What if links being shared by your family and friends are not from media companies?

The above two scenarios are the basis of the Australian government’s decision to make a law that will force Facebook and Google to share its advertising revenue with the local media organisations.

If the law is passed, it will make Australia the first country in the world where digital companies will have to pay for the content they share on their platforms, stated a Reuters report.

The move comes after talks between the Australian government, Facebook and Google failed to address the complaints made by local media companies that the two giants have ‘too tight a grip on advertising’, said Australia’s Treasurer Joshua Frydenberg on Monday in the same report.

Now that the talks between all the parties have come to a standstill, the Australian government has now asked the country’s competition watchdog Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to come up with a mandatory code of conduct for both, media and tech giants.

ACCC is expected to submit the final draft of the code of conduct by July.

“The problem with that is that some of that information they are providing consumers for free has come from people who have invested a lot of money in journalism and the case of media to provide that content,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims informed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Australia’s advertising industry is worth around A$9 billion ($5.72 billion) a year. According to an ACCC’s report on a digital platform, which was published in June 2019, of every A$100 spent in online advertising (minus classifieds), around, one-third goes to Google and Facebook.

Post the announcement Facebook expressed its dismay while Google said it would continue to cooperate with the authorities.

Before the pandemic, the Australian media industry was already going through a rough patch. The pandemic caused further damage and has shut at least 51 media outlets. Majority of the victims are local newspapers.

Similar to Australian government’s announcement, French competition regulator on April 9 had demanded Google to start paying to media organisations for sharing their content, as its practices had caused “serious and immediate harm to the press sector”.