Looks Like Australia May Not Force Tech To Pay For News After All

Looks Like Australia May Not Force Tech To Pay For News After All
Image: Getty

Another day, another trickle of reports about developments around Australia’s plans to force Facebook and Google to pay for news.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the Federal Government was mooting watering down its Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 to exclude, rather than include, conte from the Facebook’s Newsfeed and Google’s Search, from what the tech giants would have to pay for.

The first major Australian publisher — Seven West Media — announced that it had signed a deal with Google too. And looks like other publishers aren’t far behind.

Nine’s Zoe Samios and Lisa Visentin reported that the ABC, Nine and the Guardian are close to reaching agreements with Google. News Corp Australia and The Daily Mail are lagging behind, they wrote.

If signed, this would mean that the ‘stick’ — the forced arbitration by an independent panel that could force the tech giants any figure to news publishers for their content — of the news media bargaining code wouldn’t need to apply after all.

Of course, it’s unlikely these publishers would have made agreements in such short notice or get some of the benefits promised in the legislation (such as advance warning of algorithm changes) if not for the law.

Facebook, on the other hand, has yet to strike any agreements with major Australian publishers yet.

Meanwhile, Labor has reportedly decided to support the legislation. This means that the code will almost certainly become law, baring a massive change.

Today, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said some “technical” amendments to the bill will be introduced to the Senate tomorrow.

Noting that it’s “encouraging” to see agreements already struck, Frydenberg has reportedly not decided whether they will go with the watered down version of the bill or not.

With just hours before the law is voted on, it’s only a matter of time until we know just what news that the tech giants will pay for, either by force or by choice.