Google and Facebook won’t live up to their promise of trying to benefit society until they start paying for journalism, the ACCC says.
Google and Facebook won’t live up to their promise of trying to benefit society until they start paying for journalism, the ACCC says.

Social media giants avoid paying for journalism: ACCC

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has challenged Google and Facebook's claims about wanting to benefit society, arguing it is being undermined by their unwillingness to pay for news.

Mr Sims made the assessment after releasing a "concepts paper" as part of the ACCC's development of a world-first mandatory bargaining code between media businesses and the web giants, which will cover paying for news.

"The intensity of this issue is growing worldwide," Mr Sims said. "I'm certainly conscious that a lot of countries are watching what's going on here.

"Now I understand that means Google and Facebook may be less willing to go along with things because of the precedent it sets. But I think they also have to realise that the world is changing … I suspect they realise something's got to happen here."

The ACCC is developing the mandatory code after six months of talks aimed at producing a voluntary code failed.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims, who says the online giants don’t value good journalism. Picture: Zak Simmonds
ACCC Chair Rod Sims, who says the online giants don’t value good journalism. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Mr Sims said Google and Facebook aimed to be "go-to destinations for all things that people want in terms of search or in terms of social media. What's it worth to them to have news as part of that of that mix?

"That I think is the question that Google and Facebook haven't been addressing. There's clearly value to it.

"If you want to be the all-singing and dancing search engine you need news so that when someone types in coronavirus you can get all the news articles on that otherwise it's a pretty limp search," Mr Sims said.

"As part of their mission in life they talk about benefiting society. Well journalism does benefit society. How important is it to them to be part of that?"

The concepts paper seeks views on what should be included in the draft bargaining code and how it should operate.

The ACCC is seeking responses by June 5 because the federal government has asked the regulator to publish a draft code by the end of July.

News Corp Australia, which owns The Daily Telegraph, said it welcomed the concept paper's "focus on the two key issues for the code, ensuring payment for news media content and addressing the imbalance in bargaining power.

"We look forward to continuing our active participation in these consultations to address this imbalance between the digital platforms and news media."

Originally published as Social media giants trying to avoid paying for journalism: ACCC


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