New Delhi: India should follow in the footsteps of Australia and Canada to put in place concrete policy measures that push big tech companies to come to the negotiating table with digital news publishers and pay them equitably for the content they publish, said speakers at India's first cross-continent DNPA Dialogues held on November 25. The DNPA Dialogues is the brainchild of Digital News Publishers' Association (DNPA), an advocacy body and umbrella organisation for the digital arms of India's 17 top news outlets, seeking to protect the interests of digital news publishers.
"The first in the series of virtual conferences focused on reforming the publisher-platform relationship and agreed that 'bargaining codes' formed as legislation, as has been done by Australia in 2021, will help nudge technology platforms to deal fairly with news publishers. The next edition of the Dialogues will be held on December 9," stated a news report by TOI.
Speaking at the DNPA Dialogues, Australian regulatory stalwart Rod Sims, who was instrumental in helping the Code come into effect in 2021, said the Bargaining Code left scope for arbitration in the legislation if talks didn't work. "Arbitration was absolutely essential. Its purpose was to bring the parties together. So, my advice to India is, copy the Australian Code, and see the variation in Canada. You've got models that could be adopted," Sims said.
Other speakers also underlined the role of competition regulators in ironing out differences between tech companies and news publishers on matters of revenue-sharing and transparency.
Senior Policy Adviser at Australia's communications ministry from 2019-2021, Emma McDonald, said dealing with Google and Facebook was stressful and combative at times, but when media companies came together to demand legislation, the government held its nerve and went through with it. "So, it's important for governments to hold their nerve. It is the start of the conversation to protect journalism, not the end," said McDonald, who successfully negotiated deals with Google on behalf of 24 Australian news outlets.
Lecturer at Melbourne's RMIT University, James Meese, said Canada is working on a similar legislation that promises to be an "improved version" of the Australian Code. "Canada is providing the policy language needed, especially in terms of transparency of the deals that should be struck between the platforms and publishers," he said. Similar legislations are also awaiting passage in the US and UK.
In March 2021, DNPA had moved the CCI against Google for its failure to institute a similar fair pay-back mechanism. The Association had cited instances of countries like Australia, France and other European nations, which addressed this imbalance in revenue-sharing through legislation. DNPA had said Google should compensate Indian news publishers in the same way the platform had agreed to pay publishers in France, Australia and the EU.
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