Public-interest publishers unite to seek deal with Google and Facebook

The Public Interest Publishers Alliance, of which Yanchep News Online is a member, is working with Frontier Technology, an initiative of Minderoo Foundation, who will lodge the collective bargaining class exemption with the ACCC.

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

A news provider for the northern suburbs in the City of Wanneroo and the Shire of Gingin, Yanchep News Online belongs to the recently-formed Public Interest Publishers Alliance.

Between them members of the alliance, from around Australia, focus on issues at a local and regional level, attract multicultural audiences or cover news that affects LGBTQI communities.

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 allowing 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 Minderoo Foundation, who will lodge the collective bargaining class exemption with the ACCC, which will allow eligible small news publishers to collectively bargain without breaching competition laws.

Australian Rural & Regional News, (which publishes some of Yanchep News Online’s content focusing on the Shire of Gingin), Australian Property Journal, The Australian Jewish News, Australian Chinese Daily, Out in Perth, Q News, Time Out are some of the other members of the Public Interest Publishers Alliance.

Australian Property Journal editor Nelson Yap supports the calls for the Morrison Government to designate Google and Facebook under the code.

Mr Yap said Australia’s media landscape needs independent voices.

“We are the lifeblood of local, metro, regional and multicultural communities,” he said.

“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.’’

Australian Rural & Regional News managing editor Fiona Fox said 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 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’, she said.

“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.”

Yesterday was the last day readers wanting to show their support for small public interest journalism providers could sign the e-petition, which will be presented to the House of Representatives.

Yanchep News Online first reported on the e-petition on October 31 in E-petition to support public interest journalism providers

  • Disclosure: Yanchep News Online is owned by editor and journalist Anita McInnes.