Australias richest man helps publishers cut deal with Google and Facebook

Australias richest man helps publishers cut deal with Google and Facebook
Australias richest man helps publishers cut deal with Google and Facebook
Billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Australian charity will help 18 small news publishers in Australia negotiate collectively with Google and to secure licensing deals to supply news content.

Forrest affiliate Minderoo said on Monday it would submit an application to the country’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), allowing publishers to bargain without violating competition laws.

Forrest, Australias richest man, is the chairman and largest shareholder of Fortescue Metals Group, and has a net worth of around A$27.2 billion ($19.7 billion), according to the Australian Financial Review.

Google and Facebook have been asked since last March to negotiate with Australian outlets over content that brings traffic and advertising to their websites. If they don’t, the government may take over the negotiations.

Both companies have since struck licensing deals with most of Australias major media companies, but have not struck deals with many smaller companies, and the federal government is due to begin a review of the law’s effectiveness in March.

Frontier Technology, an initiative of Minderoo, said it would help publishers, said Emma MacDonald, director of policy at Frontier Technology.

In a statement: “Small Australian publishers who produce public interest journalism for their communities should be given the same opportunity as larger publishers to negotiate the use of their content for the public benefit.”

A Google spokesperson responded to the initiative by retweeting an earlier statement saying that “conversations are continuing with publishers of all sizes.” Facebook said it “has long supported small independent publishers.”

MacDonald said the 18 smaller publishers include online publications that appeal to multicultural audiences and focus on issues at the local or regional level, and the move comes after the ACCC late last month allowed a body representing 261 radio stations to negotiate a content deal.

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