Australia to make Google and Facebook pay for news content

The Australian government says global digital platforms Google and Facebook will be forced to pay for news content in Australia

Frydenberg said he believed that Australia could succeed where other countries, including France and Spain, had failed in making Google and Facebook pay.

“We’re very conscious of the challenges and complexity of ensuring a mandatory code. Many other countries have tried it without much success,” Frydenberg told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “We think we can be world-leading.”

“We do want the rules of the digital world to reflect as much as possible the rules of the physical world,” he added.

The ACCC had attempted to negotiate a voluntary code by which the global giants would agree to pay traditional media for their content.

But the parties couldn’t agree on “this key issue of payment for content,” Frydenberg said.

But Google and Facebook said they had been working to the ACCC November deadline to negotiate a voluntary code.

“We’re disappointed by the government’s announcement, especially as we’ve worked hard to meet their agreed deadline,” Facebook Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Will Easton said in a statement.

“COVID-19 has impacted every business and industry across the country, including publishers, which is why we announced a new, global investment to support news organisations at a time when advertising revenue is declining,” he added, referring to a $100 million investment in the news industry announced in March.

Google said said it had engaged with more than 25 Australian publishers to get their input on a voluntary code.

"We have sought to work constructively with industry, the ACCC and government to develop a code of conduct, and we will continue to do so in the revised process set out by the government today,” a Google statement said.

Frydenberg said Google was netting 47% of online advertising spending excluding classified ads in Australia, and Facebook was claiming 24%.

Media companies have stopped printing dozens of newspaper mastheads across Australia because the pandemic shutdown has caused advertisers to stop spending.