Oz panel OKs Google-FB ‘pay for news’ bill; House debate to start next week

CANBERRA: Australia’s parliament will next week debate making Google and Facebook pay for news after a Senate committee on Friday recommended no changes to drafts of the world’s first such laws.
The Senate Economics Legislation Committee has been scrutinising the bill since it was introduced in parliament in December. The senators rejected Facebook and Google’s arguments that the so-called media bargaining code, which would force the digital giants to negotiate payment to Australian news media for the news content to which the platforms link, was unworkable. But the committee also recognised that the legislation carried risks and should be reviewed after a year.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said his department would review the law a year after it took effect to “ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the government’s policy intent.” Parliament is scheduled to consider the bill on Tuesday and the conservative government hopes it will be approved during the next two-week sitting. The bill’s passage is guaranteed in the House of Representatives where the government holds a majority, unlike in the Senate.
Google continues to hold out hope for amendments. “We look forward to engaging with policymakers through the parliamentary process to address our concerns and achieve a code that works for everyone — publishers, digital platforms, and Australian businesses and users,” Google director Lucinda Longcroft said.
Facebook said it hoped Australia would legislate a “workable solution that truly protects the long-term sustainability of the news industry”.

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