We are concerned that the amendments to the media bargaining code announced today undermine some its core guiding tenets.
It is deeply concerning that a couple of powerful foreign corporations can create such a powerful bargaining position with the Australian Government by holding the distribution of Australian news and information to ransom.
The point of the code was not just to force commercial agreements between the platforms and news publishers, but rather to force agreements that are made under the code. If the platforms and news publishers simply bargain outside the code, the power imbalance will remain and publishers will lack the guarantee the arbitration measures provide under the code.
We are concerned that the Treasurer’s amendment shifts power away from fair and objective rules and toward ministerial discretion. Allowing the Treasurer to decide whether or not the code should apply to any given platform at any given time creates enormous potential for platforms to use their outsize power and influence to gain favourable decisions.
Ultimately what we need most are compulsory audits of the algorithms these platforms using to ensure they are complying with this Code mitigating the broader harms we know they create.