Commercial Radio Australia cleared to bargain with Google and Facebook

Brian White Scholarship

• The authorisation is for a period of 10 years until 22 November 2031

Industry body Commercial Radio Australia has welcomed the decision by the ACCC to grant authorisation to CRA and its members to collectively bargain with Google and Facebook over payment for content featured on those platforms.

The authorisation is for a period of 10 years until 22 November 2031.

“We welcome this decision, which provides us with the opportunity to negotiate fair compensation from Google and Facebook for access to the valuable local news and information radio stations produce,” CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner (pictured) said.

“Negotiated outcomes will help sustain radio stations in Australia, many of which service small and local communities that have no other source of local news and information.”

In its determination, the ACCC said the authorisation is likely to result in public benefits from reduced transaction costs, improved input into negotiations and contribution to the sustainability of Australian news businesses.

The ACCC pointed to research by the Public Interest Journalism Institute that there had been a net reduction of 106 in newspaper mastheads, news websites and broadcast news stations between January 2019 and August 2021. 

“The ACCC notes that commercial radio stations including those operated by CRA’s members play an important role in providing regional and local reporting,” the competition regulator said.

The ACCC had previously granted CRA an interim authorisation in September.

CRA represents 261 member radio stations across metropolitan and regional Australia, including ARN, Southern Cross Austereo, Nova Entertainment, Grant Broadcasters and Nine Entertainment. The authorisation excludes Nine, which previously announced it has reached agreements with Google and Facebook. 

In September, Commercial Radio Australia announced that its chief executive officer Joan Warner had advised the CRA board that she intends to step down early next year. The search for a replacement CEO commenced immediately with the aim of a new CEO taking up the position during the first quarter of 2022.

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