Australia's News Media Bargaining Code brings small publisher bargaining ahead of review | WARC | The Feed
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Australia's News Media Bargaining Code brings small publisher bargaining ahead of review
A piece of legislation that became notorious thanks to Google and the firm FKA Facebook, now Meta, taking robust opposition to its collective bargaining clause has shown some flaws in action as the biggest publishers have secured big, secretive deals, while – as predicted – smaller publishers have struggled to gain a foothold.
The News Media Bargaining Code, which came into force earlier this year, is a tool that aims to correct power and revenue imbalances between global tech platforms and Australian news publishers whose work is surfaced (and sometimes subtly repackaged) for platform distribution.
A collective bargain
- Eighteen small Australian publishers have joined together as the Public Interest Publishers Alliance – with support from mining billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation charity, a representative of which is leading the discussion – the Press Gazette reports. Its efforts to do so are allowed under the law’s waiver of competition law in these circumstances, but require one more important step.
- Now, the problem is that the legislation worked too well until it didn’t. Without the Australian government having to designate who counted as platforms under the legislation, tech giants and publishers got to business sorting out deals on a confidential basis.
- As predicted, this meant that the law never found its bite and the publishers who really could have done with some redistributed income were left out in the cold. The Alliance is now waging a campaign for the government to designate Facebook and Google as platforms in order to force negotiations.
- The question now is whether they can build the requisite political pressure to get that designation in place. Governments, regulators, and indeed platform representatives around the world will be following the news closely.
As predicted, the law helped the big boys but left out smaller players (there’s a $150,000 revenue threshold to qualify as a publisher that can negotiate).
Early next year, the Treasury will begin a review of the law’s effectiveness, but as a piece in the Conversation by researchers at the University of Canberra points out, how can it be properly judged if its most important and controversial element – the designation of who is and isn’t covered – hasn’t been put to the test.
Broadly, any review will seek to understand the legislation’s effect on the health of news, notably whether it has impacted the number of journalists employed, how many new journalists are being recruited and trained, and whether outlets have been closed, reduced, or expanded.
Sourced from Press Gazette, WARC, The Conversation
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