News Corp is already deep in payment talks with Google and Facebook

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 10 August 2020

News Corp has already opened talks with digital platforms in Australia following the release of a draft mandatory code governing the payment for using premium news by Google and Facebook.

The draft code, created by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), aims to address the bargaining power imbalance between news businesses and Google and Facebook, including through a binding “final offer” arbitration process.

If the digital platforms and media companies can’t reach a deal through a formal three month negotiation and mediation process, then an independent arbitrator would choose which of the two parties’ final offer is the most reasonable within 45 business days.

News Corp’s global CEO Robert Thomson, announcing fourth quarter results, says the the change in terms of trade with the digital platforms has already had an impact

“Those of you who watched the congressional testimony last week by the tech titans would have noticed overall that the political understanding of the issues has vastly improved,” he told analysts in a briefing.

“That is also true in Brussels, London and Australia, where the ACCC has just introduced a draft mandatory code of conduct.

“I recommend that anyone seeking enlightenment, Google the name Rod Sims and read a few of his recent interviews. Mr Sims chairs the ACCC.

“It is fair to say, without revealing details that we are deep in discussion with these companies and that the ecosystem has absolutely begun to evolve.

Thomson says News Corp has been pursuing the issue of platforms paying for the news they use for more than a decade.

“This favourable outcome would simply not have been possible without the leadership of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch and the support of a board which backed advocacy even when News Corp often stood alone in pursuit of the principle of a premium for premium content,” says Thomson.

Regulators and media companies around the world are watching Australia closely for what he called an internet inflection point.

"Essentially, we are talking about carriage fees or retrans payments for premium journalism," he says.

"And there are obviously more deals to come. Now some of those deals will be outside Australia. But I suspect, in some ways, influenced by Australian regulatory thinking."

 

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