Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week spoke directly with Australian Cabinet Ministers about the government’s plan to make the tech giant pay for news.
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, also spoke with Microsoft’s CEO about its search product amid Google’s threat to pull out of the local market because of the code.
Speaking to the ABC Sunday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed the conversations with the tech titans as Facebook and Google dig in on opposing Australia’s world-first news media bargaining code.
The news media bargaining code forces digital platforms, starting with Facebook and Google, to negotiate revenue-sharing deals with news media publishers for content they share, and to provide advanced notice of algorithmic changes that would affect rankings. The code includes a final offer arbitration method for when deals can not be negotiated in good faith.
Both Facebook and Google are resisting the media laws, now the subject of a senate inquiry, threatening to remove news content and search features respectively for Australian users if the code goes ahead.
- Read more: US Government Backs Facebook And Google’s Resistance To Paying For News Content In Australia
With Labor set to back the code, and MPs returning to Canberra for the resumption of Parliament, the platforms have reportedly engaged well-connected lobbyists to try and water down or quash the code.
But they’ve also enjoyed direct access to lawmakers in Facebook’s case, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking directly with Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher last week.
Frydenberg said he had a “constructive discussion” with Zuckerberg last week after the Facebook chief “reached out” about the code. The Treasure insists, however, the meeting has not altered the government’s stance on the code.
“No, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t convince me to back down if that’s what you’re asking,” Frydenberg told the ABC Insiders program Sunday.
WATCH: @JoshFrydenberg on talking with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the PM with the CEO and president of Microsoft about the proposal to make big tech companies pay media companies for journalism. #Insiders #auspol pic.twitter.com/mSRM2N8qoe
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) January 30, 2021
The Treasurer also revealed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has spoken with Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the potential expansion of Microsoft’s search engine Bing locally, should Google follow through on its threat to pull its search product from Australian users.
“[Microsoft are] watching this very closely and no doubt see opportunities here in Australia to expand too,” Frydenberg said. “So this is world-leading, what we’re doing.”