Journalists' union says social media must be pulled into line

By AdNews | 11 July 2024
Credit: Mike Hindle via Unsplash

Social media companies are threatening the sustainability of news media in Australia, the union covering journalists, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), has told a federal parliamentary inquiry.

The submission to the joint select committee on social media and Australian society says platforms such as Facebook, X (Twitter) and TikTok are distorting the public discourse by failing to control misinformation and disinformation.

The MEAA, representing 5,000 journalists and media workers, says Meta, a major source of news for Australians, has started using news content to train its AI models.

MEAA is recommending that Meta be designated under the News Media Bargaining Code and be forced to continue to carry news content.

Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, has ended its agreements to pay news publishers in Australia for the news run on its platforms. The social media group argues that people don't use its platforms to read news. 

Major publishers, including News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, have warned that local news coverage could shrink if the government fails to ensure Meta renews its agreement to pay for news content.

All three publishers have been cutting staff in response to stubbornly low advertising spend and an end to revenue from Meta.

The current news bargaining code, enshrined in legislation, is worth about $70 million in commercial deals to the media publishers for news content on Meta's platforms.

Competition regulator the ACCC is investigating whether or not there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between Meta and Australian news media companies.

This will inform the federal government on a decision to designated Meta under the News Media Bargaining Code. 

Other recommendations from the MEAA include expanding the code beyond Facebook and Google to other platforms including Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and X; amending the code to specify that money must be spent on public interest journalism; and broadening its scope to include smaller outlets.

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