Flat White

Tech giant media content code still slugs taxpayers over SBS and the ABC

2 August 2020

6:06 PM

2 August 2020

6:06 PM

The world-first draft mandatory code unveiled by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last Friday in response to complaints tech giants Google and Facebook have not made adequate progress towards paying media companies for original journalism contains a gaping hole. 

“Under the proposed bargaining arrangements, commercial media organisations will be able to enter into negotiations with relevant digital platforms to determine an appropriate payment for news content, with binding arbitration to follow should they be unable to reach agreement,” the Treasurer says. 

“These bargaining arrangements will not be available to public broadcasters as they are principally funded by government and not through advertising revenue.”  


In other words, the tech giants will be able to freely rip off content from the ABC and SBS — which does raise advertising revenue, by the way — paid for by the taxpayer. Superficially, this seems sensibleSuperficially is the problem.

This code was — and still is — a great opportunity for Australian taxpayers to reduce the expenditure on public broadcasting, which many taxpayers would welcome. The gaping hole can be filled if the legislation called for the tech giants to negotiate with the public broadcasters as well as with commercial broadcasters. 

Whatever revenue the ABC and SBS earn from the tech giants could then be deducted from the amount paid by taxpayers as funding.

That way, the tech giants would not be subsidised by the taxpayer for use of ABC and SBS editorial content. 

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