Australia to push ahead with mandatory code before Christmas

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With little comment on it other than Google and Facebook criticisms, the Australian government's media bargaining code is set to become law in the form in which it was proposed last July.

News Corp's The Australian quoted treasurer Josh Frydenberg that the code would come into effect by the end of the parliamentary year on December 10.

Earlier plans had been put aside with the focus on the COVID-19 crisis, and the paper reported that amendments pushed by the tech giants could have delayed it.

"The News Media and Digital Platforms Bargaining Code will address bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and media companies following an 18-month review into digital platforms by the ACCC," Frydenberg said.

During its annual meeting last week, Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello referred to Google and Facebook's market power as "the other great challenge in this industry".

He said they were not subject to content rules that applied to free-to-air broadcasters in the Australia market, and contributed little to Australia's unemployment rates during the pandemic.

In a blog update, Google ANZ vice president Mel Silva says the draft code is missing several fundamental elements, and that the search giant will work with the ACCC to develop a "workable and fair" version.

She says the proposed code only looks at one side of the exchange, adding, "No other code of conduct in Australia forces one company to provide services to another company and pay them for the services they benefit from."

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DIGITAL | BRIEFS
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