A new report has revealed that Australian media firms have raked in A$200m (£111m) from Google and Facebook since last year’s regulatory crackdown that forced tech giants to negotiate payment terms.
The report from Judith Neilson Institute, a Sydney-based philanthropic organisation, said: “Media companies, including Murdoch’s News Corp, helped convince the Australian parliament to pass a law that is now compelling Facebook and Google to pay substantial sums — sometimes in the tens of millions of dollars — to news organisations whose headlines frequently appear on platforms’ pages.”
As a consequence of this injection of cash, Aussie media outlets have been able to create at least 50 new journalist posts in traditionally underrepresented areas.
However, report author Bill Grueskin, professor at Columbia Journalism School, said: “Australia looks like a success story to those who’ve long yearned to force big tech to prop up suffering newsrooms. But it’s a murky deal, with details guarded like they’re the launch codes for nuclear missiles.”
Indeed, he said that tech companies face a serious problem: “They haven’t come up with a reason why they have managed to adjust to Australian regulations but would fight a similar arrangement in the US or the EU. They know, though, that if the idea spreads, their burden will become far more complex and expensive.”
It comes as the UK government push forward a code that would regulate the relationship between platforms like Google and Facebook, and third parties, including news publishers.
It is also pushing to put heavier legal duties on the Silicon Valley giants with the upcoming Online Safety Bill.
In the EU, states have extended copyright protections for news publishers, requiring tech platforms to pay for displaying anything beyond a basic URL.