Are Facebook And Google Fighting A Lost Battle Against New Australian Media Code?

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The fight between media companies and tech giants is nothing new. But now, the social media behemoth Facebook along with the search giant Google are constantly leaning towards the losing side of the battle. 

A prime example of this fact would be Zuckerberg’s recent brush with the Australian Treasurer where he failed to convince the latter to back down on the Media Bargaining Code.

In April 2020, Josh Frydenberg the Australian Treasurer asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission aka ACCC to prepare a mandatory code of conduct in order to address the imbalance of bargaining power between digital platforms and media companies.

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At that time, both Facebook and Google gave testimony against the code by claiming to have made progress in terms of monetizing content sourced from media companies. But, Frydenberg held a completely opposite opinion and said ACCC intervention will be required nonetheless.

As a result, since August both Facebook and Google have been engaged in a brawl with the ACCC over the code. 

Frydenberg, in an interview conducted on Sunday, revealed that he recently spoke with Zuckerberg about the new media law and although it was a constructive discussion, the Facebook CEO was unable to convince him to back down.

Now, quite similar to Facebook, Google finds the code to be unfair as well. According to the search giant, it contains an unfair arbitration process which happens to ignore the real-world value Google provides to news publishers and makes them vulnerable against enormous and unreasonable demands.

Until last month Google threatened to pull the news section out of its Australian platform. But now, sensing how it has had no effect on the code making its way to becoming a concrete law, they have upped the ante and are currently threatening to pull its entire search engine from Australia.

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Frydenberg, in the interview, said that he doesn’t dismiss the treats but he is not intimidated by them either. He also mentioned that the discussions with Google, Facebook and other players across the industry has been heavily detailed and has been going on over 18 months. 

Media Bargaining Code: Microsft To Step In And Save The Day?

Knowing how Google and Facebook make up for most of what consumers recognise as the internet, Frydeberg said that he is being told the implementation of the code might just break the internet in Australia but that doesn’t mean the Australian Government isn’t prepared to take on these digital giants.

Instead, the Australian Government is already preparing to jump ship to alternatives. In the event that Google leaves Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been in talks with Microsoft to come help save the day.

Frydenberg, in the interview, said that the Australian Prime Minister has spoken to CEO and president of Microsoft and are in talks about Bing exploring opportunities to expand in Australia.

All in all, as mentioned earlier, it is well understood that the victory is leaning towards Australia and not the tech giants. Frydenberg said that there still remains a lot of uncertainty about the rules that need to be resolved. Now, it remains to be seen what becomes of the outcome of it when the code is actually put in use. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

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