On Friday, the Australian Senate Economics Legislation Committee officially presented its report into the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020, more commonly referred to as the Media Code laws. Google has arguably been the most vocal critic of the Media Code bill, saying that it would “break” the way that search currently works, and threatening to pull out of the Australian market if the bill passed in a way they deemed unworkable.
Lucinda Longcroft, Google’s Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy for Australia & NZ has said:
“As we’ve said since the draft was released in July last year, we remain committed to a workable Code–-the concerns that we, and others, have been raising consistently are about specific aspects of the Code. We’ve proposed reasonable amendments, including fair arbitration and that the Code apply to News Showcase, which is already paying publishers and supporting journalism in Australia, the UK and around the world. We look forward to engaging with policymakers through the parliamentary process to address our concerns and achieve a Code that works for everyone – publishers, digital platforms, and Australian businesses and users.”
Google argues that they are not opposed to paying journalists for their work, amongst other issues laid out on the Media Code, but that the proposed law was not the way to go about it. Offering up their own product, Google News Showcase as a solution, they say that it would operate under an amended code and make sure journalists were fairly compensated for their work.
Google News Showcase already has a number of Australian news outlets subscribed to it, including The Canberra Times, The Illawarra Mercury, The Saturday Paper, Crikey, The New Daily, InDaily, and The Conversation. Google says they are “looking forward to bringing more Australian media partners on board in the coming weeks and months.”