ACCC set to give Country Press Australia collective bargaining powers with tech giants

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 2 July 2021

The ACCC has proposed that Country Press Australia (CPA) members be authorised to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google over payments for news content.

The draft determination comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave CPA members interim authorisation to collectively bargain in April.

This was after the news media bargaining code, designed to govern how the tech giants will pay news companies for their content, passed parliament in February.

The CPA represents 81 news publishers which publish 160 regional newspapers across Australia.

“Allowing the publishers of 160 newspapers to collectively negotiate with Google and Facebook should help address some of the considerable bargaining power imbalance that exists between the digital giants and these local news outlets,” says ACCC chair Rod Sims.

“This measure should lead to more efficient and effective negotiations, making commercial deals more likely and thereby contributing to the sustainability of news in regional Australia.”

CPA is seeking authorisation so its members can collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google about payments for content, as well as engage in discussions and exchange information with each other about those negotiations. The proposed authorisation is for a period of 10 years.

Without authorisation, these arrangements risk breaching competition laws because no digital platforms have yet been ‘designated’ under the news bargaining code. Designation would automatically allow collective bargaining for news media businesses.

The ACCC is inviting submissions in response to the draft determination by July 21.

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