A top Australian government official has said that they are about to finalise deal with tech giants, Google and Facebook to pay major Australian media for news.
Australia had earlier revealed plans to make these companies pay its media for news, in anticipation of Australia creating world-first laws that would force the digital giants to finance journalism.
The tech giants frowned at the legislation with both companies threatening to partially withdraw services from the country if the Australian government insist on making it law.
According to the Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, the meeting he held with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai yielded a positive result even as the situation is being monitored by many.
He said, “We’ve made real progress, I think, in the last 48 to 72 hours and I think we’re going to see some significant commercial deals which could be of real benefit to the domestic media landscape and see journalists rewarded financially for generating original content, as it should be, and this is a world-leading reform.
“No other country has stepped in like we have. It’s been a difficult process. It’s still ongoing, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But the discussions to date have been very promising indeed.”
Parliament is scheduled to consider the draft laws on Tuesday after a Senate committee last week recommended no changes to the proposed regulations that Google and Facebook have condemned as unworkable.
Google and Facebook had earlier explained that the legislation, if not well handled, could crash the way the internet works.
The agreements could be enough to see Facebook and Google avoid the most severe parts of the legislation — including binding arbitration to ensure they are not using their online advertising duopoly to dictate terms in deals with media companies.
Even as Google and Facebook could easily pay for the Australian news, their major fear is about the international precedent the new legislation could set.
Google has faced pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for news. Last month, it signed a deal with a group of French publishers, paving the way for the company to make digital copyright payments. Under the agreement, Google will negotiate individual licensing deals with newspapers, with payments based on factors such as the amount published daily and monthly internet site traffic.
A Google spokesman said the company was in discussions with publishers both “large and small” while a Facebook spokesperson said the firm had been negotiating to “land commercial deals that reflect the commercial value of news content on our platform.”
The advent of the digital medium has greatly affected the income of news outlets in Australia leaving several journalists jobless.