News media trading code pushes digital platforms to pay a fair price for Australian journalism

The News Media Negotiating Code, introduced just over 12 months ago, has been largely successful in driving commercial negotiations, but further improvements could be made, according to Free TV Australia’s submission to a review of the coded.

Bridget Fair, CEO of Free TV, said: “Although the digital platforms have not yet been designated under the Code, these valuable commercial agreements would not have been possible without the incentives of the framework.

“For a long time, digital platforms have refused to pay a fair price for news content, despite the value it creates on their services. It is essential that the Bargaining Code legislation is upheld in order to support the sustainability of Australian media.

“Digital platforms – Google, Facebook and their affiliates, continue to dominate the search and social media markets.

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“The News Media Negotiation Code, with its framework for final offer arbitration, has become an international model for addressing the competitive imbalance in countries like Canada and the UK.”

Free TV also makes a number of recommendations to improve the framework of the code, in particular within the framework of the renewal of commercial agreements. These include:

  • a statement of expectations on digital platforms that establishes an intent to designate if commercial agreements are not entered into and maintained with all relevant news media companies;
  • any naming intentions, including social video platforms like YouTube;
  • removing the “significant contribution” test in the designation criteria to reinforce that all eligible news media companies can seek agreements under the Code if the Treasurer decides to designate a digital platform service; and
  • committing to biennial reviews of the functioning of the framework.

Fair said: “Future revisions to the code should also take into account defining the content of basic and covered information and the possibility of streamlining the ACMA registration process.

“As the framework continues to mature, it is important that it continues to reflect the evolving nature of Australian media businesses.”