Meta and Google urged to continue negotiating payment agreements with media outlets

The Australian government has issued a stern warning to digital giants such as Google and Meta, urging them to negotiate fair agreements for using news content on their platforms. This comes after the introduction of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, which has resulted in over 30 commercial agreements in its first year. However, a review by Treasury revealed that none of these agreements were likely to have been made without the code, prompting the government to implement five recommendations to improve the framework.

In response to the findings of the review, the government has announced that it will implement all five recommendations in an effort to ensure fair and transparent negotiations between digital platforms and news media companies. Additionally, another review of the code is scheduled to take place in early 2025, during which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will be tasked with preparing reports on the digital platforms that should be covered by it.

The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code was introduced as a way to address the power imbalances between tech giants and news media organizations. Under the code, digital platforms are required to negotiate in good faith with news media companies and reach agreements on the use of news content. Failure to do so can result in binding arbitration, where an independent panel will make a final decision on the terms of the agreement.

The implementation of the code has already had a significant impact, with over 30 commercial agreements being reached in the first year alone. However, the review by Treasury found that these agreements were largely influenced by the presence of the code, and were not likely to have been made without its enforcement. As a result, the government has taken steps to address the shortcomings of the current framework and ensure that negotiations are conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

One of the key recommendations put forward by Treasury is the need for a clearer definition of the news content that is covered by the code. This is aimed at preventing any ambiguity and ensuring that all relevant news content is included in the negotiations between digital platforms and news media companies. Additionally, the government has announced that it will work to improve the transparency of the arbitration process, making it easier for both parties to understand the terms of the agreement.

Overall, the review of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code has highlighted the need for improvements to the current framework. By implementing the recommendations put forward by Treasury, the government aims to create a more balanced and transparent negotiating environment for digital platforms and news media companies. With another review scheduled for 2025, it is clear that the Australian government is committed to ensuring that the code effectively addresses the power imbalances in the digital landscape.

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