Inevitable that Google, others will pay for news: Australia treasurer Josh Frydenberg

Sydney: Australia treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it’s “inevitable” that Google and other tech behemoths will have to eventually pay for using media content, responding to the internet giant’s threat to disable its search engine in the country if forced to pay publishers for news.

Google on Friday said the proposed law intended to compensate local publishers for the value their stories generate for the company is “unworkable,” opposing the requirement it pay for displaying snippets of articles in search results.

As Google escalates a months-long standoff with the government, Frydenberg said Australia could either be a “world leader” in pushing for the code or wait to follow others in passing similar legislation. “It seems that digital giants did themselves a big disservice last week when they very openly and publicly threatened the Australian public with pulling out of Australia effectively with search if the legislation proceeds as it currently stands,” Frydenberg said.

The threat is Google’s most potent yet as the digital giant tries to stem a flow of regulatory action worldwide, but such a radical step would hand an entire developed market to rivals. At least 94% of online searches in Australia go through the Alphabet Inc unit, according to the local competition regulator.

Facebook Inc, the only other company targeted by the legislation, also opposes the law in Australia. The social media platform reiterated that it’s considering blocking Australians from sharing news on Facebook if the law is pushed in.
Frydenberg also accused the tech giants of shifting the goalposts when it came to expressing their resistance to the code, after they first rejected a final arbitration model, to now opposing the idea of paying for any clicks displayed under the search results.

“If the clicks for media content is such a small proportion of overall clicks on their search, then ultimately, independent arbiters will find it should reflect that payment for content — reflecting benefit to Google, to Facebook from having that media content on their sites,” he said.

Johan Lidberg, associate professor at Melbourne’s Monash University, said, “They’re signalling to other regulators (that) they’ll have a fight on their hands if they do this.”





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