While news publishers have generally welcomed the draft code issued by the ACCC on Friday morning, Mel Silva, managing director Google Australia & New Zealand is disappointed.
In a preliminary statement, Silva said: “Our hope was that the code would be forward thinking and the process would create incentives for both publishers and digital platforms to negotiate and innovate for a better future – so we are deeply disappointed and concerned the draft Code does not achieve this. Instead, the government’s heavy-handed intervention threatens to impede Australia’s digital economy and impacts the services we can deliver to Australians.
“The code discounts the already significant value Google provides to news publishers across the board – including sending billions of clicks to Australian news publishers for free every year worth $218 million. It sends a concerning message to businesses and investors that the Australian Government will intervene instead of letting the market work and undermines Australia’s ambition to become a leading digital economy by 2030. It sets up a perverse disincentive to innovate in the media sector and does nothing to solve the fundamental challenges of creating a business model fit for the digital age.
“We urge policymakers to ensure that the final code is grounded in commercial reality so that it operates in the interests of Australian consumers, preserves the shared benefits created by the web, and does not favour the interests of large publishers at the expense of small publishers.”
Google ANZ indicated it would provide a more detailed response to the draft code in due course, when it has had time to review it thoroughly.