Country in Focus: Australia
Building upon the “Notable Legislation” section of CNTI’s issue primers, find more information here about recent and proposed legislation in key countries across our issue areas. These pages add additional information at the country level where there has been a high level of legislative activity requiring more detail or context.
Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, passed into law by Parliament in February 2021, was the first regulatory legislation of its kind to come into effect and has since served as a model for policymaking in countries like Canada and Brazil. The code included a late provision that platforms could avoid “designation,” or being subject to arbitration, if they made a “significant contribution” to the sustainability of Australia’s news industry. While the code faced strong resistance from major platform companies – with Google threatening to cut off search and Facebook briefly blocking news feeds – at least 30 commercial agreements have since been made to compensate dozens of outlets (though these deals are far from transparent). The chief criticisms of the Australian code include that it primarily benefits legacy or large publishers at the expense of local, independent media; it does not include a transparency requirement, so the size of deals with publishers is unknown; and outlets are not required to spend money on journalism (e.g., hiring journalists or boosting coverage of news). Of particular concern is what has been deemed the “poison pill” clause: that if platforms become “designated,” their deals with publishers become void.