8 facts why News Media Code needs to be tweaked: Google

New Delhi:  As the News Media Bargaining Code triggers a bitter war between Google and the Australian government, the tech giant has detailed eight facts on why reaching a workable Code is important but serious concerns with the current draft remain.

Google said that it supports a fair Code but the current version remains unworkable.

“We believe that the concerns we and others have raised can be addressed with reasonable changes. We have proposed a solution that would see Google pay publishers for value under this new law — without breaking Google Search,” the company said in a statement.

Rod Sims, chair of the watchdog Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said on Friday that Google and Facebook just don’t want the code to be implemented.

“Google and Facebook like to do things on their terms. I think the code does what it’s intended to do. It is workable. It allows for a process of negotiation we’ve seen these sorts of things work in the past where you’ve got negotiate-arbitrate regimes, so I think this is just something Google and Facebook don’t want,” he was quoted as saying in media reports.

Google, however, said that the draft Code is unworkable for Google in three key areas: Paying news sites for snippets and links; an unfair and unprecedented arbitration process and giving 14 days algorithm notification to news publishers.

“Even if we could comply, that would delay important updates for our users and give special treatment to news publishers in a way that would disadvantage every other website owner,” Google lamented.

According to Google, many others have raised concerns that paying for links and snippets would undermine the fundamentals of the free and open web.

This includes the Business Council of Australia; Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and Scott Farquhar, co-founder of Australian tech company Atlasssian, among others.

“We’re proposing to pay publishers through Google News Showcase, not for links and snippets in Search. News Showcase is a licensing programme we’re investing AU$1.3 billion (US$1 billion) in globally over the next three years to help news businesses publish and promote their stories online,” the tech giant said.

Google said the News Showcase would operate within this new law, with binding arbitration on News Showcase as a backstop to resolve any disputes.

“Google doesn’t ‘use’ news content. We sort through hundreds of billions of webpages to find the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second, and present them in a way that helps you find what you’re looking for — and then we take you to the source of that information,” the company emphasized.

Google said it is not the reason for the decline in newspaper revenue over time.

“Google’s revenue growth was primarily from new money being spent by businesses that would previously not have spent money on advertising”.

The company once again reiterated that it has provided $53 billion in benefits to businesses and consumers in Australia each year.

Facebook and Google have been engaged in a battle with the ACCC since August last year over the new media code.

Google on Friday threatened to pull its Search engine from Australia if a proposed media bargaining law, that directs Google to pay news publishers, goes into effect.


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