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04 February 2021

Microsoft Backs Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code

Microsoft has this week come out in support of Australia’s news media bargaining code to level the playing field between the news media industry and the tech giants, saying news publishers are “vital to the country’s democracy.”

The code is widely supported by publishers and bodies including the News Media Association which is urging the UK Government to legislate quickly to give statutory backing to a new regime to address the imbalance between news media and the platforms.  

In a statement Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company fully supported the code which “reasonably attempts” to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses.

Mr Smith said he and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella had spoken with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to voice their support for the regime.

He said: “Microsoft is committed to Australia and the news publishers that are vital to the country’s democracy. Microsoft recognizes that the media sector and public interest journalism currently face many challenges from the digital era, including changing business models and evolving consumer preferences.

“That is why Microsoft has long supported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s efforts to analyse these issues and propose world-first solutions.

“Microsoft fully supports the News Media Bargaining Code. The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses.

“It also recognises the important role search plays, not only to consumers but to the thousands of Australian small businesses that rely on search and advertising technology to fund and support their organisations. While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the Government designates us.”

He added: “We believe that the current legislative proposal represents a fundamental step towards a more level playing field and a fairer digital ecosystem for consumers, business, and society.

“One thing is clear; while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat. We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft’s growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success.”