Australian billionaire to help publishers sign content deals with Google, Facebook

The Google logo and the Australian flag are displayed in this illustration taken February 18, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration

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SYDNEY, November 22 (Reuters) – Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest’s philanthropic organization will help 18 small news publishers across the country negotiate collectively with Google and Facebook (FB.O) to secure licensing agreements for news content delivery.

Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation said Monday it would submit an application to the country’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which allows publishers to negotiate without violating competition law.

Forrest, Australia’s richest man, is chairman of the board and largest shareholder in the iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX). He has a net worth of around $ 27.2 billion ($ 19.7 billion), according to the Australian Financial Review.

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Facebook and Alphabet Incs (GOOGL.O) Since March, Google has been required to negotiate with Australian content outlets that drive traffic and advertising to their websites. If they do not, the government can take over the negotiations.

Both companies have since entered into licensing agreements with most of Australia’s most important media companies, but they have not entered into agreements with many small companies. The federal government is scheduled to begin a review of the law’s effectiveness in March.

Frontier Technology, an initiative of Minderoo, said it would help publishers.

“Small Australian publishers who produce journalism of general interest to their communities should be given the same opportunity as large publishers to negotiate the use of their content for public benefit,” said Emma McDonald, Frontier Technology’s director of policy, in a statement.

A Google spokesman responded to the initiative by resubmitting an earlier statement saying “talks are continuing with publishers of all sizes.” Facebook said it “has long supported less independent publishers.”

The 18 small publishers include online publications that attract multicultural audiences and focus on issues at the local or regional level, McDonald said.

The move comes after the ACCC late last month allowed a body representing 261 radio stations to negotiate a content agreement. read more

News organizations, which have lost advertising revenue to network aggregators, have for years complained about the large technology companies that use content in search results or other functions without payment.

($ 1 = 1.3826 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Diane Craft and Sam Holmes

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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