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21 May 2020

Australian Competition Authority Seeks Views On Digital Platforms Bargaining Code

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking views to inform its work on developing a new draft mandatory code that will address bargaining power imbalances between Australia’s news media businesses and Google and Facebook.

concepts paper, sets out a range of issues for which the ACCC is seeking feedback and information; including what should be included in the draft bargaining code, how particular issues should be addressed, and how the code should operate.

The move is part of the Australian Government's committment to a range of measures to crack down on the tech giants including establishing a special unit within the competition authority to look at competition and consumer protection in the digital platform marketplace.

In the UK, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that he is aware of the Australian scheme and is looking at it to understand its potential applicability in the UK.

The News Media Association has been calling on the Competition and Markets Authority to undertake a market investigation in the UK to shed light on the digital advertising market and ensure news brands receive fair revenues for their content. 

In a press release announcing the launch of the consultation, ACCC chair Rod Sims said: “We are keen to tap views on all the issues and ideas involved with this code. Given the tight timeframe we are seeking precise views on the content of the code and this concepts paper will facilitate this,” .

“Our digital platforms inquiry highlighted the acute need to address the imbalance in bargaining position between news media and particular digital platforms, and that is what the code will do.”

The concepts paper is available on the ACCC website. Submissions in response to the concepts paper close on 5 June.

The Australian Government announced in April that it had directed the ACCC to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms.

The Government has asked that a draft mandatory code be released for public consultation before the end of July 2020, with a final code to be settled soon thereafter.