'A weaker media ecosystem': Why publishers are pessimistic about the next round of News Media Bargaining Code talks
Welcome to Tuesdata, our weekly analysis for Unmade’s paying members.
Below, we examine how consequential the next round of News Media Bargaining Code negotiations could be for the Australian media landscape.
Further down, a down day for Seven on the Unmade Index.
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How will publishers fare if the Meta money stops?
Seja Al Zaidi writes:
In 2021, Australian political parties rallied behind a law that pushed Google and Facebook to help pay for the news they distributed on their platforms.
The threat of the News Media Bargaining Code nudged Google and Facebook to sign deals with publishers. Under the law, once a digital platform was designated by the government, it would be forced into binding negotiations with publishers. The passage of the law was enough to bring Facebook and Google to the table to ward off designation.
The result was more than $200 million injected into the revenues of Australia’s largest publishers, along with some of the smaller ones.
Although deals were confidential, most Facebook deals seem to have been for three years, while Google’s may run slightly longer. That first tranche of money will stop at the end of this financial year. While most in the market appear to anticipate a new set of deals from Google, they are more pessimistic about Facebook and its parent company Meta doing the same. They say that Meta is more antagonistic to deal with.
Hear more about how the News Media Bargaining Code happened:
One of the signals has come from overseas where Meta blocked news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada rather than be covered by the Online News Act.
Though every publisher deal was struck on a case-by-case basis, the next 12 months will see some of them begin to expire. Publishers and news organisations will be hoping to begin negotiations for a new round sooner rather than later. As a consequence, the commercial fortunes of Australian media will largely be determined in the coming months.
The general consensus amongst publishers is that Meta’s cooperation is unlikely in 2024. And smaller publishers believe that the structure of the law may leave them frozen out while media behemoths with political clout will likely fare better.
Below, we speak to some of the most influential publishers in Australian media including Nine’s managing director of publishing, James Chessell; Private Media CEO Will Hayward; Digital Publishers Alliance founder Tim Duggan; Broadsheet founder Nick Shelton; and co-founder of Man of Many, Scott Purcell.