Australia to make Google and Facebook pay for news content

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Global digital platforms Google and Facebook will be forced to pay for news content in Australia, the government said yesterday as the coronavirus pandemic causes a collapse in advertising revenue.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)would release in late July draft rules for the platforms to pay fair compensation for the journalistic content siphoned from news media.

Frydenberg said he believed that Australia could succeed where other countries, including France and Spain, had failed in making Google and Facebook pay.

“We’re very conscious of the challenges and complexity of ensuring a mandatory code. Many other countries have tried it without much success,” Frydenberg told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“We think we can be world-leading. “We do want the rules of the digital world to reflect as much as possible the rules of the physical world,” he added.

The ACCC had attempted to negotiate a voluntary code by which the global giants would agree to pay traditional media for their content. But the parties couldn’t agree on “this key issue of payment for content,” Frydenberg said.

But Google and Facebook said they had been working to the ACCC November deadline to negotiate a voluntary code.

“We’re disappointed by the government’s announcement, especially as we’ve worked hard to meet their agreed deadline,” Facebook Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Will Easton said in a statement.

File photo shows Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. PHOTO: AP