Commercial radio stations can now collectively bargain with Google & Facebook for payment
Members of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) have been given interim authorisation to collectively bargain with Google and Facebook about payment for content used on the platforms.
The collective bargaining and sharing of information about negotiations will not be viewed as a breach of competition laws by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
In its draft determination, the ACCC said the proposed conduct would likely have public benefits including “reduced transaction costs, improved input into negotiations” and a “contribution to the sustainability of Australian news businesses”.
CRA represents 261 commercial radio stations and it will be voluntary for members to participate. Members who opt-in will be able to commence collective negotiations while the ACCC seeks feedback on CRA’s application for final authorisation.
Joan Wanrer, CRA’s CEO, welcomed the news.
“CRA now has the opportunity to act as the bargaining agent for CRA members to secure fair compensation for individual publishers for content they produce that appears on the digital platforms, to reflect the value of that content and the resources required to produce that content,” she said.
“Negotiated outcomes providing compensation from Google and Facebook will help to sustain commercial radio stations in Australia, many of whom provide small and local communities with regional news and information.”
The collective action will exclude Nine Radio, which has already reached agreements as part of the wider Nine Entertainment group’s deals with Facebook and Google.
The move from the US-owned Facebook came as the digital giants continued to posture in response to Federal Government intervention. The Morrison Government had introduced legislation to force Facebook into mandatory arbitration with news outlets, resulting in it having to pay for the news content which is shared and consumed on its platform.
Radio outlets at the time were hit, but in an inconsistent manner.
In a matter of days, Facebook had backed down on the ban.
The News Media Bargaining Code is now in effect, and the ACCC has invited submissions in relation to its draft determination on CRA by September 30.