Peak broadcasting industry body Free TV Australia has released a submission to the ACCC setting out how Google and Facebook should be required to pay for the use of news content on their platforms. The ACCC sought submissions to assist it in drafting the mandatory news media bargaining Code of Conduct announced by the Government in April.
Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said: “There has never been a more important time for news media businesses to receive fair remuneration for their trusted news content that is relied upon by all Australians.
Free TV has proposed that Google and Facebook should be required to pay a collective fee of 10 per cent of their Australian based revenues across all of their products and services into a pool to be distributed to Australian news media businesses.
“Despite the significant value obtained by Google and Facebook from the news content of Free TV broadcasters, they do not receive fair payment for the use of their content on the core services of Google Search, Facebook Newsfeed and Instagram.
“Under the model proposed by Free TV, this value would be collected and distributed to Australian news media businesses to enable the continued investment in local news media services.
“This model should be established and enforced by the ACCC, who will also need strong powers to protect against punitive responses by Google and Facebook. It must be illegal for Google or Facebook to deindex or downrank content that is subject to the mandatory Code of Conduct.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the ACCC before it publishes the draft mandatory Code next month,” Fair said.
Meanwhile, Commercial Radio Australia has said a collective licensing-fee arrangement would provide the best framework to enable commercial radio broadcasters to share in the ad revenue that Google and Facebook generate from radio-created content.
In its submission to the ACCC’s consultation paper on a mandatory news media bargaining code, CRA said commercial radio stations should be compensated by the digital platforms for the value derived from the use of their content, which includes both advertising revenue and the generation of consumer data.
“It is apparent that substantial advertising revenue is being earned by the digital platforms at the expense of Australian media businesses,” CRA said.
An income-based approach to revenue sharing would be the most appropriate as it would be simple to administer and provides certainty over the revenue to be earned by content creators.
The industry body expressed concerns that the bargaining code might apply only narrowly to “news media”, which would potentially exclude much radio content, “leaving radio to fight the bargaining imbalance with the digital platforms unsupported by Government or regulators”.
CRA argued the code should contain a provision exempting commercial radio from compliance with a news threshold, to reflect radio’s contribution to local communities and integrated programming style.
The protection of original content is a key concern for radio, as on-air interviews with celebrities and other news makers on breakfast and drive shows are often substantially reproduced by other online websites. Google’s search algorithms frequently direct consumers to the site that has “ripped off” the content rather than the station that produced the content.
CRA said the code should require Google to give priority to original content in searches.
Commercial radio content attracts a significant following on social media. For instance, SCA’s Hit Network has 8.6 million Facebook fans, Nova station 93.7 in Perth alone has more than 900,000, while ARN reports 7 million followers across social channels.
The Australian Government announced in April that it had directed the ACCC to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining imbalances between Australian media businesses and digital platforms. The draft code is expected to be released for public consultation before the end of July.