Fears code could 'further entrench' traditional media, as Google softens

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If you thought Google were threatening to withdraw news from its platform if Australia's ACCC went ahead with its mandatory code, you must of course, have been imagining it.

A much more conciliatory search giant today signals that it could be open to backing the proposed revenue-sharing code of conduct after all. Australian managing director Mel Silva says the proposed code could be "fair and workable" with some "reasonable changes", among them watering down the requirement that news publishers must be given advance notice of significant changes to search algorithms.

In an open letter Silva contends that Google does not "use" or "steal" news content, but simply links users to the content they are seeking, including news.

It's all part of an increasingly softly, softly approach to the legislation proposals which includes an article from former journalist Nic Hopkins and Google-sponsored research from Accenture unit Alphabeta.

This week ten minor digital publishers formed a group to protest the news media bargaining code might hurt diversity in media, urging Facebook, Google and the regulator to ensure the code doesn't 'disadvantage the rich variety of new media voices that have sprung up over the last decade and a half'.

Members of the group include Junkee Media, Broadsheet Media, Concrete Playground, Urban List, We Are Explorers, Starts at 60, Man of Many, The Daily Aus, Science Alert and Acid Stag.

While they support "a more even playing field", they fear current proposals might just "further entrench the large traditional media companies and accidentally destroy media diversity in the process".

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