On 20 April 2020, the Australian Government announced 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.
The ACCC recognises that bargaining power imbalances exist in other contexts, including in other commercial relationships involving digital platforms. However, the production and dissemination of news provides broad benefits to society beyond those individuals who consume it. The proposed bargaining code is intended to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms in order to ensure that commercial arrangements between these parties do not undermine the ability and incentives for news media businesses to produce news for Australians.
The ACCC is seeking the views of relevant stakeholders to inform the development of the bargaining code through a consultation period on this concepts paper scheduled for 19 May to 5 June 2020. This concepts paper is intended to guide the consultation process by clarifying the issues to be included in the draft bargaining code, identifying and exploring options for addressing these issues, and seeking stakeholder feedback by asking a number of specific questions about how these options may be implemented in the code.
The ACCC expects that news media businesses’ and digital platforms’ responses to the concepts paper will also reflect the discussions held between them during negotiations as part of the previous voluntary code development process.
Responses are due by 5 June 2020.