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Journalism Fights Back

Two years after Australia's News Media Bargaining Code started forcing Big Tech platforms to pay publishers for the news they carry, other countries are advancing their own versions of the law. Having reaped massive profits from journalism produced by others, Google and Facebook should stop fighting these bills and start paying up.

NEW YORK – Two years ago, the Australian Parliament passed the News Media Bargaining Code, which forced Meta (Facebook) and Alphabet (Google) to compensate media outlets for news content shared on their platforms. The law has been a remarkable success, with Australian media outlets now receiving more than AU$200 million ($133 million) annually from Big Tech firms.

With financing for local news plummeting, the number of journalism jobs declining, and innovative policies to sustain the production of high-quality news urgently needed, the Australian media code has attracted significant attention. Google and Facebook have siphoned vast amounts of advertising revenues from legacy media outlets, and lawmakers around the world increasingly recognize that the major tech platforms have a responsibility to support public-interest journalism.

With little fanfare, other countries – including Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States – have initiated their own versions of the Australian legislation. As Pierrick Judeaux, director of portfolio for the new International Fund for Public Interest Media, recently observed, the media code has become part of Australia’s “soft power.” Over the past two years, Australian officials have traveled the world to promote it, cautioning their peers that Google and Facebook will lobby hard, spend heavily, and play dirty to prevent such bills from spreading.

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