Australian Press Can Collectively Bargain With Google & Facebook Says Regulator

The ACCC has granted interim authorization for Country Press Australia (CPA) members to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google over payments to publishers for their news content that appears on the platforms, reported the regulator.

CPA is an industry body that represents the interests of independent regional and local newspapers throughout Australia. CPA currently represents 81 members and 160 regional newspapers, which provide local news to regional communities in print and online.

Authorisation will enable CPA members to collectively negotiate with each of Facebook and Google, engage in discussions with each other and exchange information about those negotiations. Without authorisation, these collective bargaining arrangements would risk breaching competition laws as no platforms have yet been ‘designated’ under the news bargaining code, which would automatically allow collective bargaining for news media businesses.

“The ACCC considers that allowing CPA members to bargain collectively is likely to result in public benefits by enhancing negotiations between regional publishers and digital platforms, and thereby assisting the sustainability of regional news production,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“These public benefits align with the purpose of the news media bargaining code, which was intended to allow and encourage collective bargaining.”

“We welcome the fact that both Facebook and Google appear to be successfully reaching voluntary deals with Australian news businesses, including a number of smaller publishers, following the passage of the bargaining code. The onus now remains on Facebook and Google to continue to negotiate in good faith with news businesses of all sizes,” Mr Sims said.

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