Rod Sims recommends Meta be designated under Media Code in new report

rod sims

• The report on the code has been published for the Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas

Rod Sims AO, former Chair of the ACCC, has written a report on the News Media Bargaining Code (NMBC) for the Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas, his first report since leaving the Chairmanship of the ACCC. The Report includes a recommendation that Facebook (Meta) is officially “designated” under the legislation. If the new Government acted upon this recommendation, it would force Meta to go to arbitration with media companies.

Rod Sims has written this Report to assist international regulators and legislators looking at implementing similar legislation in other jurisdictions, but also in light of the current Treasury Review.

The introduction to the report reads: 

Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code (NMBC) is seen as world leading for allowing media businesses to bargain on broadly equal terms, and so commercially, with dominant digital platforms. Based on my close observation, it has facilitated over $200m being paid annually by Google and Facebook to news media businesses, large, medium and small. Further, these media businesses feel they could successfully bargain on much more equal terms with the dominant platforms in ways not imaginable prior to the NMBC legislation being passed.

There have been, however, a range of criticisms of the NMBC. There is nothing wrong with criticism; indeed, issues of such importance need to be constantly debated and some improvements can be made. This is particularly the case as other jurisdictions, such as Canada, the USA and UK, seek to follow the NMBC example and introduce their own legislation to facilitate commercial bargaining between the dominant platforms and the news businesses.

The issue this article seeks to address is that much of the criticism focusses on the NMBC not achieving objectives it never sought to address. I was once in a forum where it was said… “Rod, this Code does not seem to be addressing all the problems of journalism”. Of course, it was never meant to.

The report is then broken into five sections: 

• The logic and context for the recommendation to introduce the NMBC.
• A description of the essential features of the NMBC.
• The negotiations that led to the NMBC’s introduction into the Parliament.
• The results of the NMBC legislation being approved by the Parliament.
• The many criticisms of the NMBC.

The full report can be read here.

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