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Federal Government urged to ban Facebook and Google from using news from Australian publishers

The federal government is being urged to ban Google and Facebook from using any Australian news publisher’s content unless deals are done for sharing of revenue and data.

The prohibition is advocated by News Corp Australia in a submission to the government ahead of its formal response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s landmark “digital platforms” inquiry.

“News Corp’s submission outlines a blueprint for how Australia can show global leadership,” executive chairman Michael Miller said.

The submission, made public on Monday, supports the ACCC’s recommendation for codes of conduct over relationships between digital platforms and media businesses, arguing “there must real consequences for non-compliance”.

This could be achieved through “enabling legislation”, News said, to “prohibit a digital platform from using any news publisher’s content and collecting any data generated by the use of any news publisher’s content unless all news publishers, or at least the major ones, have negotiated and entered into agreements with that digital platform”.

“This prohibition on using content would also include using content which is a rewritten version of any news publisher’s original content, regardless of who has rewritten the content.”

News said in its submission that the codes should be policed by the ACCC, not the Australian Communications and Media Authority as the commission recommended.

Codes covering dealings between digital platforms and media businesses would not be “a regulation of content or transmission but a means of addressing an imbalance of bargaining power”, News said.

“It is therefore quasi-competition and consumer regulation”.

News backed the ACCC recommendations for a digital platforms unit inside the commission and an inquiry into “ad tech” services.

Mr Miller said Google used its market power to “engage in predatory conduct that leads to less competition, higher prices for advertisers and fewer revenues for publishers”.

“Google’s advertising dominance not only crushes would-be competitors, it forces anyone wanting to build a business in Australia to play by its rules like inmates locked in a prison,” he said.

A submission by Free TV Australia representing Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment Co, Network 10, Southern Cross Austereo and others also supports an inquiry into ad tech and the ACCC being in charge of the codes of conduct.

Nine, which now owns the Fairfax mastheads, filed a separate submission pushing for tough, legally enforceable codes. “We can no longer afford as an industry and a nation for these large digital platforms to use their market position to lock down unfair terms,” Nine said.


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