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Global Challenges to Digital Media Policy and Regulation, Vol. 30 - 2023, No. 2

Guest Edited by Hannu Nieminen, Helena Sousa, and Claudia Padovani

Global Digital Lords and Privatisation of Media Policy: The Australian Media Bargaining Code

, pages: 268-283

After two decades of regulatory vacuum, powerful digital platforms such as Google and Meta/Facebook, also known as the “Digital Lords” (Brevini Citation2020Brevini, Benedetta. 2020. “Conclusion.” In  Amazon: Understanding a Global Communication Giant, edited by B. Brevini, and P. Swiatek, 65–70. New York: L. Routledge. [Crossref], [Google Scholar]), have faced growing criticism worldwide. They are accused of possessing excessive economic, political, and ideological influence while evading public accountability. Although there have been calls to address their monopolistic market dominance, such as antitrust measures to break their stranglehold on data, the most tangible interventions have focused on policy tools to make the Digital Lords contribute to journalism. With governments hesitant to allocate public funds for public interest journalism, policymakers in various countries are exploring avenues to make these wealthy and tax-avoiding Digital Lords pay for the news they distribute. The “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” is presently being deliberated in Congress in the United States, with the objective of aiding small and mid-sized news organizations in their negotiations with digital platforms for fair compensation for the utilization of their content. The European Union has implemented a copyright reform granting press publishers the right to be remunerated by Digital Lords for the use of newspapers and magazines. One widely discussed policy tool in this regard is the Australian “News Media Bargaining Code.” This article examines the successes and failures of the code, adopted a year and a half ago, in addressing Australia's journalism crisis and its pressing issues of media diversity and news scarcity. Ultimately, it argues that the Australian Media Bargaining Code exemplifies the progressive privatization of media policy.

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