Members of regional publishers group Country Press Australia have been told they can negotiate collectively with Facebook and Google over content payments.
An interim authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission means the 81 members – representing 160 regional newspapers – will be allowed to negotiate as a group.
Without the authorisation, they would risk breaching competition laws as no platforms have yet been ‘designated’ under the news bargaining code, which would automatically allow collective bargaining for news media businesses.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the arrangement would be “likely to result in public benefits by enhancing negotiations between regional publishers and digital platforms, and thereby assisting the sustainability of regional news production”.
Sims says the benefits align with the purpose of the news media bargaining code. He welcomed that both Facebook and Google “appear to be successfully reaching voluntary deals” with Australian news businesses, including a number of smaller publishers, following the passage of the bargaining code.
“The onus now remains on Facebook and Google to continue to negotiate in good faith with news businesses of all sizes,” he said.
The ACCC’s statement of reasons for the interim authorisation and more information on how to make a submission are available on the ACCC public register at Country Press Australia (CPA).