17 December 2023

Government to implement all recommendations of news media bargaining code review


Joint media release with
The Hon Michelle Rowland MP
Minister for Communications

The Government will implement all recommendations of Treasury’s review of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code (the Code).

The review concluded that the Code had been a success in its first year, with over 30 commercial agreements inked between digital platforms Google and Meta, and a cross-section of news businesses. The review found that the agreements that were highly unlikely to have been made without the Code.

The Code is intended to help support the sustainability of the Australian news media sector by addressing bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and Australian news businesses. Commercial agreements that contribute to this objective are relevant under the Code’s designation provisions.

Treasury made five recommendations to improve the Code’s operation.

In response to the report, the Government will introduce legislative amendments to facilitate the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) preparing periodic reports on the digital platforms that should be covered by the Code.

The ACCC will have compulsory information-gathering powers to assist it to prepare these reports, and to allow scrutiny of commercial deals between the digital platforms and Australian news businesses to effectively evaluate their contribution, and the outcomes resulting from the Code.

The Government will also commission a further review of the Code after four years of its operation in early 2025.

Many commercial agreements between Australian news businesses and digital platforms will expire over the next year. The Government expects that digital platforms with significant bargaining power will negotiate in good faith towards the renewal of existing agreements, and potentially new agreements, with Australian news businesses.

The full Government response, including the recommendations, will be available on Treasury’s website at 8:30 am Monday 17 December 2023.

Quotes attributable to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, the Hon Stephen Jones MP:

“The Review made sensible recommendations to strengthen the Code for the future, and we are glad to support them.

“But let us be very clear: we already have the power to designate digital platforms and we are prepared to use it.

“We want to see news outlets and digital platforms come together and negotiate in good faith.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“The Albanese Government wants to ensure the sustainability of public interest journalism in the digital age.

“Supporting these recommendations will help improve the framework overall and ensure Australian news media businesses are properly remunerated for their journalistic content through commercial deals with platforms”.