Zuckerberg calls Frydenberg, while Microsoft says it's 'ready' to step in

Jan 31, 2021 at 10:13 pm by Staff

The phone has been running hot between the tech giants and key Australian politicians, according to treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

He told an ABC current affairs programme he had had a "constructive" discussion with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, while prime minister Scott Morrison had taken a Zoom call from Microsoft chief Satya Nadella to say that Bing could fill any search engine void left by Google.

Like Google, Facebook has said the proposed code is not workable in its current form. It has asked that the digital platforms be given six months' grace to negotiate deals with news companies before the code becomes law.

On the ABC, Frydenberg said his conversation with Zuckerberg had not convinced him that the government should back down.

Last month, Google ANZ managing director Mel Silva - who is also reported to have given birth to a son in recent days - told a Senate inquiry that if the code was enacted as at present, they would have "no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia".

While he didn't dismiss threats made by Google, Frydenberg said he was "not intimidated by them" either.

"What I do know is that media businesses should be paid for content."

• Meanwhile in the US, a newspaper company in West Virginia has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Google and Facebook, believed to be the first of its kind. The suit by HD Media - which publishes the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Huntington Herald-Dispatch and other titles - charges the internet giants with monopolising the digital advertising market.

Their 42-page complaint in the US District Court claims the monopoly has enabled Google to extract a "supracompetitive" share of HD's advertising revenues, harming the company's ability to effectively monetise its content. Other complaints allege manipulation of online auctions, and that Google's monopoly of digital advertising threatens the extinction of local newspapers.

HD Media managing partner Doug Reynolds has invited "every other newspaper in America" to join the claim. "We are fighting not only for the future of the press but also the preservation of our democracy," he says in Editor & Publisher.

Sections: Newsmedia industry


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