On 20 April 2020, the ACCC developed a draft ‘mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook’. In other words, ACCC suggests that Google (a $1.43 trillion company which had $US38.3 billion in revenue in recent months) & Facebook should pay commission to Australian news publications for the content the platforms use. The ACCC have now released their Draft News Media Bargaining Code & Google are not happy about it.

Google at risk

Google’s AUS and NZ managing director, Mel Silva, responded to the code with an open letter to Australian’s:

‘News Media Bargaining Code would force us to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube, could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia’.

Misinformation 

The ACCC slammed Google’s allegations with a media release, calling out Google for displaying misinformation, and pointing out that Google will NOT be required to: 

  • Charge Australians for the use of its free services such as Google Search and YouTube unless it chooses to do so.
  • Share any additional user data with Australian news businesses unless it chooses to do so.

In fact, the ACCC draft code of conduct makes no mention of YouTube at all.

What’s next?

Ultimately, the ACCC is determined to find a solution for the overarching concerns between news media and digital platform giants. The intention is not to remove any search or social services for Australians, but these services need to be ‘on our own terms’ says Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer of the ACCC.

According to Silva, Google will be doing ‘everything they possibly can’ to have the code changed and to continue building relationships with news media businesses their own way – And sure they are! 

Their strategies are provoking the industry to question whether Google’s response antics are genuine, or if it’s just all one big scheme at gaining consumer attention against ACCC. 

We would love to know your thoughts on this industry change. Do you believe the ACCC are priding themselves on developing a code that does enforce a healthy news media sector, or do you think Google has every right to fight back? 

If you would like information on the ACCC’s draft News Media bargaining code legislation, please see link below: https://www.accc.gov.au/focus-areas/digital-platforms/news-media-bargaining-code