By Mike Cherney 
 

SYDNEY--Australian authorities released a draft of new rules on Friday that would enable media companies to seek payment from Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google for content that is posted to their websites.

The new rules would govern how negotiations between the digital platforms and news businesses take place, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said. Under the rules, which need to be passed by Australia's Parliament, media companies can proceed to mediation and then to binding arbitration if no deal on payment is reached.

"There is a fundamental bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and the major digital platforms, partly because news businesses have no option but to deal with the platforms, and have had little ability to negotiate over payment for their content or other issues," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The new rules would initially apply only to Facebook and Google, but other digital platforms could be added if they attain a bargaining-power imbalance with Australian media companies in the future, the regulator said.

Late last year, the Australian government asked the regulator to develop a voluntary code that would govern the relationship between media and the digital platforms. Talks over payment issues stalled, however, and in April the government asked the regulator to develop a new set of mandatory rules.

The regulator said a public-comment period on the new rules will run until Aug. 28, and final legislation will be introduced in Parliament shortly thereafter.

Publishers have long sought compensation from Google and Facebook, which collect ad revenue based on visits to their sites and increase their traffic by including links to news articles. In the past, the tech giants have resisted paying for content, instead making donations through philanthropic arms and arguing that publishers benefit by getting large amounts of traffic directed to them.

 

Write to Mike Cherney at mike.cherney@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 30, 2020 20:30 ET (00:30 GMT)

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