Facebook, Google to be forced to pay for news as part of new mandatory code of conduct

Facebook and Google will be the first digital platforms subjected to the code.

Facebook and Google will be the first digital platforms subjected to the code. Photo: Reuters

Facebook and Google will have to pay traditional news media to publish their content under a new code of conduct developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that could be implemented by the end of this year.

The federal government ordered the competition watchdog to develop the mandatory code of conduct to govern commercial dealings between tech giants and news media companies.

The draft version of the code has been released by the ACCC and will be open to consultation until the end of August with legislation expected to be introduced to Parliament “shortly after” the consultation ends.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the code would “create a level playing field” between the two.

“We want Google and Facebook to continue to provide these services to the Australian community, which are so much loved and used by Australians,” he said.

“But we want it to be on our terms.

“We want it to be in accordance with our law and we want it to be fair.”

The Treasurer will decide which digital platforms are subject to the code, with Mr Frydenberg saying it will “start with Google and Facebook”.

Mr Frydenberg said the code would require designated platforms to “negotiate in good faith” payment agreements with Australian news companies.

But the Australian Communications and Media Authority will assess which news outlets are eligible based on criteria set out in the draft code.

“Namely that these businesses predominantly produce core news, such as journalism on matters on public importance, or local and community events and publish this online,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“That these businesses adhere to appropriate professional editorial standards, they maintain editorial independence from the subject of their news coverage, and that they operate primarily in Australia for the purpose of serving Australian audiences.”

-More to come

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