Google and Facebook have been in high profile dispute in Australia as to implementation of a news bargaining code promoted by a competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”). Why is the Australian Government legislating to require Google and Facebook to pay media proprietors? What is the competition policy rationale for the ACCC being involved in this dispute? Why is continuing disruption of the business of production of in-depth or investigative journalism being addressed by a competition regulator? Why do both the competition regulator and the Australian Government refer to market power of Google and Facebook as a relevant concern to the question of whether, and if so, how much, these global digital platforms “should” pay to media proprietors? These questions have uniquely Australian answers, as examined in this paper. However, the media policy concerns that underlie these questions are common across many countries, some of which are considering levy, subsidy or targeted taxation schemes to transfer value from global digital platforms to domestic media proprietors. This paper considers how and why media policy concerns arising from disruption of news journalism business arose and came to be associated with business success in Australia and elsewhere of Google and Facebook.

By Peter Leonard1

 

I. GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR INDUSTRY POLICY FOR THE MEDIA SECTOR

In most countries around the word, the structure of traditional pri

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