Tuesday, 19 January 2021 11:47

US asks Australia to scrap news media code law Featured

US asks Australia to scrap news media code law Pixabay

The US Government has asked Australia to drop its move for a news media code to make it compulsory for digital platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay local news organisations for using material from their publications.

Assistant US Trade Representatives Daniel Bahar and Karl Ehlers said in a submission to the Senate panel looking into the legislation that the "US Government was concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players in a fast-evolving digital market, to the clear detriment of two US firms, may result in harmful outcomes".

"There may also be long-lasting negative consequences for US and Australian firms, as well as Australian consumers," the two American officials said.

"While the revised draft has partially addressed some US concerns — including an effort to move towards a more balanced evaluation of the value news businesses and platforms offer each other in the context of mandatory arbitration — significant issues remain."

The Australian Government introduced the laws into Parliament on the last sitting day of 2020. But even before that, it had backed down on the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

Three concessions were given to Google and Facebook. They will be able to put a value on the service they provide to a news organisation in monetary terms — for example, Google will be able to say its search results were worth so much — before the amount that they should pay to that organisation is set.

In response to the US submission, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government “is committed to proceeding with a mandatory code” that would address “the bargaining power imbalances with digital platforms and media companies".

The Senate will hold public hearings on the legislation on 22 January.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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