Australia’s Plan To Force Tech Giants To Pay For News Won’t Meet The Hype

Australia’s Plan To Force Tech Giants To Pay For News Won’t Meet The Hype

As the deadline for passing Australia’s world first plan to force tech giants Facebook and Google to pay for news rapidly approaches, we’re finally seeing how the end game of this experiment will play out.

On Friday, the Federal Government announced that it bring its long awaited Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 for a vote in the Senate this week.

If passed, it would force Facebook and Google to negotiate with Australian news publishers over paying for their news content which is shown on the platforms.

The news media bargaining code was conceived as encompassing just news content in Facebook’s Newsfeed and Google’s Search.

Now, there’s some significant changes to the legislation that are being seriously considered by the government.

On Sunday afternoon, Nine papers reported that the Federal Government was mulling over a “major concession” to the tech giants by exempting the Newsfeed and Search.

“However, industry sources, who requested anonymity to speak about the confidential discussions, said the government had indicated it was prepared to hold off on the designation process to give the tech giants more time to sign commercial agreements through their respective products: Google News Showcase and Facebook News,” Nine’s Zoe Samios and Lisa Visentin wrote.

On Monday morning, we got an idea of what those agreements might look like when one of Australia’s major media companies announced their agreement.

Seven West Media signed a deal with Google reportedly worth $30million a year, making it the first local major media company to do so.

While $30 million sounds like a large figure — and that’s only from one of the two tech giants — it’s not that big.

It’s a relatively small number for both Google (which made $4.8 billion in revenue in Australia in 2019) and for Seven West (which reported a loss of $162 million after tax last year).

Millions in cash is nothing to shake a stick at, particularly for a struggling industry. But this version of forcing tech giants to pay for news won’t replace the rivers of gold that went out the door as these companies took over the advertising businesses that news publishers once owned.