Public interest publishers band together to seek deal with Google and Facebook

Public interest publishers band together to seek deal with Google and Facebook

Eighteen of Australia’s small news publishers who produce public-interest journalism are banding together, to negotiate collectively to secure commercial agreements with Google and Facebook for the supply of news content on their platforms.

Called the Public Interest Publishers Alliance, these important Australian publishers, from around Australia, attract multicultural audiences, focus on issues at a local and regional level, and cover news that affects LGBTQI communities.

The group includes valued titles such as The Australian Jewish News, Australian Rural & Regional News, Australian Chinese Daily, Out in Perth, Q News, Time Out and more.
Only small to medium publishers who produce public-interest journalism and turn over less than $10 million per year are included in the collective bargaining action. The collective is made possible under new rules introduced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in
June allows small, medium businesses to form a collective bargaining group without going through a costly and onerous application process.
Over the past eight months, Google and Facebook have reached voluntary commercial agreements with multinational and national media organisations but have not engaged meaningfully with many smaller Australian news publishers, who also play a critical role in the creation and distribution of news content for the benefit of the Australian public.
The collective is working with Frontier Technology, an initiative of the Minderoo Foundation, which will lodge the Collective Bargaining Class Exemption with the ACCC, which will allow eligible small news publishers to collectively bargain without breaching competition laws.

*Publishers are available for interview

Public-Interest Publisher Statements:
“With Google and Facebook taking the Lion share of all advertising revenue to the tune of well over 5 billion dollars, the Morrison Government initiative has served the larger news outlets well. Smaller independent public interest publishers have been largely forgotten.

News and advertising are being dynamically programmed with complex algorithms and squeezing out smaller publishers. Less specialised independent journalism leads to less credible information and therefore less scrutiny and accountability.” Richard Bakker, Publisher Q News

“As a platform created specifically for the purpose of showcasing independent news from across rural and regional Australia, Australian Rural & Regional News has a particular interest in investigating and reporting upon the success, or otherwise, of the Federal Government’s much-vaunted Media Bargaining Code.
The Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, MP, made a number of optimistic statements regarding the Code including that the Code: ‘will address the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and digital platforms’ and ‘The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia’ and ‘The Code will support a diverse and sustainable Australian news media sector, including Australia’s public broadcasters’ by, amongst other things, ‘encouraging the parties to undertake
commercial negotiations outside the Code’.
None of this has come to pass for the great majority of independent publishers in Australia who are producing public-interest journalism on a daily basis. The Federal Government appears to believe that once the major players were paid multi-millions of dollars by Facebook and Google that the job was done. Wrong, the real work has only just begun of ensuring the maintenance of independent public interest journalism in Australia.” Fiona Fox, Managing Editor, Australian Rural & Regional News

“The Star Observer and the City Hub are committed to working through the collective bargaining process to secure a content deal with Facebook. While we were fortunate to secure a deal with Google late last week, we have not had any luck reaching out to Facebook.

We welcome Google’s contribution to independent, alternative and queer journalism. We encourage Google to look after other independent publishers as well. We hope Facebook becomes a better corporate citizen and supports public interest publishers big and small. “Lawrence Gibbons, Publisher Star Observer and City Hub

“The Morrison government’s deal with Google and Facebook delivered big money to Big Media such as News Corp, Nine, Seven, the ABC and The Guardian. But most independent publishers have been left out in the cold. Their ability to compete with Big Media is now at risk, but Australia needs independent media voices and scrutiny now more than ever in this age of creeping Stenographer Journalism.

We support the call for the Morrison government to designate Google and Facebook under the Media Bargaining Code. Australia’s media landscape, and our democracy, need our independent voices.” Giles Parkinson, founder and editor of Renew Economy.

“As part of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse multicultural community we have seen the advertising that underpins our public-interest journalism being consumed by Google and Facebook when, for an extremely small sliver of their vast revenues from Australia, they could instead be contributing to the rich diversity of Australia.

We call on the government to designate these companies under the media bargaining code and enable independent public interest publishers to continue to serve their communities at a time when dispelling misinformation has never been more important.” David Redman, CEO, The Australian Jewish News

“Australians deserve and want locally owned and operated independent news sources in their community. Any action that diminishes local independent news access needs to be challenged.
Naracoorte News is proud to stand with independent teams around Australia who are working every day to serve their communities. We all face enormous barriers to sharing local news, yet communities are supporting and empowering us to do just that. This collective bargaining action, among many other actions, is needed to give all Australian’s a glimmer of future hope to have equal access to independent and trusted local news and information.” Michael Waite, Founder, Naracoorte News

“Independent small publishers provide a voice for local and underrepresented communities. It allows our communities to speak about important issues ourselves, rather than being ‘spoken about in the mainstream media. Our journalism often breaks major stories, and provides a space for crucial discourse, that the mainstream media later pick up on.

Independent media connects minority communities, which has a positive effect on mental health, democratic participation and the promotion and participation in culture and the arts.

The dominance of Facebook and Google has had a destructive impact on the ability of these businesses to be heard and survive financially. While deals have been made with media outlets owned by millionaires, true community publishers have been completely overlooked and ignored.” Graeme Watson, Co-owner OUTinPerth

“We support calls for the Morrison Government to designate Google and Facebook under the code.
Australia’s media landscape needs our independent voices. We are the lifeblood of local, metro, regional and multicultural communities. Our newsrooms might not be located within towering CBD office buildings, but across the nation the independent publishers support hundreds of journalists, photographers, graphic designers and more in local communities.

But Independent publishers have been ignored, Google and Facebook are hoping they have “done enough deals” with large and influencing media companies such as News Ltd, Nine, Seven West and the ABC, to take the issue off the front pages.

Furthermore, I am disappointed the Walkley Foundation has decided to lend its prestige to Facebook instead of standing with Australian independent publishers, history will mark this day when The Walkley Foundation chose to stand with a multitrillion-dollar global corporation against small independent publishers of Australia.” Nelson Yap, Editor, Australian Property Journal

List of participating publications:

 Naracoorte News
 The Greek Herald
 The Australian Jewish News
 Australian Rural & Regional News
 Star Observer
 City Hub Sydney
 Australian Chinese Daily
 Out in Perth
 Australian Property Journal
 Yanchep News Online
 Q News
 Time Out
 Pro Bono Australia
Hills to Hawkesbury Community News
 COSMOS Magazine
 Primer Magazine
 AcquisData
 Renew Economy
MEDIA CONTACT: Original Spin P: +61 2 8065 7363
Amber Forrest-Bisley [email protected] M: + 61 405 363 817
Matt Fraser [email protected] M: +61 401 326 007
Alex Clampett [email protected] M: +61 411 046 734

Public interest publishers

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