The Greens have today said the Morrison Government’s Media Code plan is incomplete, calling on the government to include the public broadcasters in the Mandatory Code, ensure the survival of the AAP newswire and protect smaller players.
Australian Greens Spokesperson for Communications and Media Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said any Code must protect public broadcasting and public interest journalism.
“The ABC is Australia’s most trusted news source and should be included in any reform to tackle the greed of the big tech giants. It was a deliberate decision to lock the public broadcasters out of the draft code, allowing Facebook and Google to profit from their content for free – the Government should reverse this and drop their relentless attack on the ABC.
“The power and greed of the tech giants is threatening journalism and public access to news. The government’s mandatory ACCC code could be part of the solution but the draft needs fixing and additional measures brought to the table.
“Australia’s media landscape is facing unprecedented challenges. Public interest journalism, reliable local news and trustworthy and informed analysis is essential for a robust and accountable democracy. The power imbalance between the big tech giants and Australian news organisations is unsustainable.
“It is therefore important that key parts of Australia’s media landscape are protected as part of this process. There is no reason for the ABC and SBS to be excluded from the Code. Public broadcasters deserve a fair return for what they produce and what the tech platforms benefit from.
“At the same time it is important that Australia’s fact based independent newswire service is supported. It would be unconscionable for the Government not to find a way of supporting AAP while introducing a code that supports other media players. AAP is key media infrastructure that helps new players into the market and diversity across Australia’s media landscape.
“The ACCC’s draft Mandatory Code must guarantee simple and cost effective benefits for small and independent media players, through effective collective bargaining arrangements.
“If the aim of this code is to ensure the viability of Australia’s media, then the Government should ensure ABC is included, that AAP doesn’t fail and that small and independent publishers don’t miss out.
“Public interest journalism is under threat in Australia, whether it be from funding cuts to the ABC, loss of advertising revenue for commercial outlets or the threat of heavy-handed police action that we have seen lately. The Greens’ changes would see the mandatory code go some way to protecting public interest journalism in Australia.
“The Greens reserve our final position on the Mandatory Code until we have seen the legislation.”