This Australian Tycoon Is Helping Small Publishers To Close Deals With The Likes Of Google And Facebook

Australian small publishers will now have a shot at working with Facebook and Google because the country’s richest person said that he will work out a collective bargaining arrangement for them.

The Minderoo Foundation, owned by Andrew Forrest, chairman of iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX) is aiming to support 18 small publishers by applying to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on their behalf so they can negotiate together without breaching competition laws.

Publishers like the Star Observer, Australia’s oldest LGBTQ title are happy with this step as they could not secure deals with Facebook even when they had completed deals with Google (GOOGL.O).

These efforts can set up the path for the Australian government to determine fees with Facebook and Google.

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

Australia came up with a law in March that needed Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian outlets for content that attracts traffic and advertising to their websites. This has been proved beneficial for major publishers but has left the smaller ones high and dry. Facebook is even said to have ignored their calls.

Publications that have confirmed and closed deals with the tech giants include TV broadcaster SBS, the main source of foreign language news, and The Conversation, which publishes public affairs commentary by academics.

The ACCC Chair Rod Sims has also questioned Facebook’s approach towards the law that was passed.

According to the law, the government is supposed to determine fees if the tech giants and the publishers fail to reach a common ground. However, the smaller companies that have been rejected do not see much hope. They are still in the anticipation of their government to review the law next March as planned.

The 18 small publishers that are being supported by this initiative include online publications that attract multicultural audiences and focus on issues at a local or regional level, Emma McDonald, director of Frontier Technology, a Minderoo Foundation initiative, said in a statement.

Google reiterated that “talks are continuing with publishers of all sizes.” Facebook said it “has long supported smaller independent publishers.”

The foundation’s move comes after ACCC late last month allowed a body representing 261 radio stations to negotiate a content deal.

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