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Aussie government takes on social media giants

Paul Brislen, Editor. 22 April 2020, 8:09 am

The Australian government has served up a nasty surprise for the social media giants that dominate the paid advertising world - it is drafting a set of rules to govern paying professional news producers for the content the social media companies use.

Google and Facebook between them account for more than 70% of the advertising spend in the Australian digital media space and yet contribute nothing to the development of the content which drives much of the readership of their sites.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had been working on a set of voluntary rules for social media players to sign up to, but had reached a stalemate according to NBC News.

The lack of willingness to pay for the content they offer up to readers has pushed the Australian treasurer to announce the new rules would be mandatory in Australia.

This isn't the first time a government has tried to pull the social media world into line. Spain introduced a law based on copyright legislation and insisted Google pay for news content it offered up to readers - Google simply switched off Google News for the Spanish market in retaliation. It continued, however, to offer news links in its search results.

The French government has also tried, unsuccessfully, force Google to pay for the content it serves up - Google has refused.

Now all eyes are on Australia to see if it can make a fist of it, and locally both central government and the news media will be watching closely. New Zealand media companies face dire times following the COVID-19 outbreak with Bauer Media closing its doors and both NZME and Stuff showing signs of financial difficulty.


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