Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) will be compelled to compensate Australian media outlets for their news content after the country’s treasurer ordered the creation of a code of conduct. The decision could be timely as media outlets have been hit with declining ad revenues because of coronavirus and have been forced to downsize and even shut.
Tech companies forced to share ad revenue with media companies
Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission has been developing the code of conduct and informed the government that they could not reach a consensus on the issue of tech giants paying for news content from media companies. The ACCC has been working on the code of conduct as part of the 2019 online platform inquiry. According to the inquiry, tech companies running online ads were taking most of the advertising revenue despite most of the content they use coming from media companies.
The report indicated that the tech giants could voluntarily negotiate to compensate news media companies for using their content. Similarly, they were expected to inform media companies before algorithm changes that could disrupt content rankings. Also, they were to favor news content from media companies in search results and also provide data to the companies.
New code of conduct to be ready by July
In November last year, the ACCC finalized the code of conduct although with limited negotiation between online platforms and the companies. But it now seems that the competition watchdog is making it mandatory for the tech giants to pay the media companies. The ACCC is planning to finalize the code of conduct by July and although it will be the same as the earlier code it will nonetheless have more penalties.
Josh Frydenberg the Australian Treasurer insisted that it was fair for the media companies to be compensated for the content they create. Media outlets and newspapers in Australia are struggling with the effects of the downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Several media outlets in the country have cut pay to employees and many have stopped production because of the decline in ad revenue.