Media code encouraged digital platforms to enter agreements with local outlets, review finds

Media code press freedom

The review noted a broad range of agreements with large and small news businesses in metropolitan and regional areas

The Federal Government’s review of Australia’s media bargaining code has been found to have encouraged digital platforms – Google and Facebook – to reach agreements with local media outlets.

The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, a world‑first initiative, took effect on 3 March 2021. The Code ensured the platforms paid large and small news publishers to display articles in the search engine and newsfeed.

The review examined the first year of the Code’s operation. It found that the Code has been successful to date with more than 30 commercial agreements made by Google and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, with a cross-section of Australian news businesses as a result of the Code.

The review noted a broad range of agreements with news businesses, both large and small, and in metropolitan and regional areas.

The platforms and news businesses did not provide the details of these agreements in the review as they remain under confidentiality clauses.


Google reached 23 commercial agreements with the likes of Nine Entertainment (five years), Seven West Media (five years), and a global agreement with News Corporation (three years).
Meanwhile, Meta reached commercial agreements with 13 news businesses such as ABC, Guardian Australia, News Corporation and Junkee media.
Unlike Google, Meta did not enter into agreements with SBS and the university-backed outlet, The Conversation.
According to the review, Meta appeared to cease negotiations during the second half of 2021.
In its submission, Meta said: “The budget to support content agreements for these products was limited and it was therefore inevitable that some news businesses would not receive a deal.”


Lucinda Longcroft, director, government affairs and public policy, said in a statement:

“We’ve been partnering with Australian news companies to strengthen quality journalism for two decades. 

“Over the last two years, we’ve furthered our significant contribution to the Australian news industry by launching News Showcase and signing agreements with more than 70 Australian news businesses, representing 200 mastheads across the country. The majority of these outlets are regional or local.”

In its conclusion, the report said: “On the evidence available to the review, at least some of these agreements have enabled news businesses to, in particular, employ additional journalists and make other valuable investments to assist their operations.

The report added: “While views on the success or otherwise of the Code will invariably differ, we consider it is reasonable to conclude that the Code has been a success to date.”

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