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Australia news media ‘large and small’ discuss Google deals – 570 News

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CANBERRA, Australia — Google was quickly negotiating generous deals with big and small Australian media companies to pay for news as the Parliament considers forcing digital giants into such agreements, a minister said on Wednesday.

Seven West Media on Monday became the largest Australian news media business to strike a deal with Google to pay for journalism and its rival Nine Entertainment was reportedly close to announcing its own agreement.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed that state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. was also in negotiations and plans to spend any Google revenue on regional journalism.

“There are negotiations going on with all the major players and the minor players at the moment,” Frydenberg told reporters. “This will help sustain public interest journalism in this country for years to come.”

Frydenberg said “none of these deals would be happening” if not for proposed legislation to create a so-called News Media Bargaining Code.

Amended legislation to create the code was scheduled to be introduced to the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The code would create an arbitration panel to set a binding price for news in cases where Google and Facebook failed to reach deals with media companies whose original journalism they link to.

“Everything that I have heard from parties, both in the news media business and in terms of digital platforms, is that these are generous deals,” Frydenberg said.

“These are fair deals. These are good deals. These are good deals for the Australian media businesses,” he added.

Google and Facebook, which take a combined 81% of online advertising in Australia, have condemned the code as unworkable.

Google has threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the code were introduced. Facebook said it might block Australians from sharing news if the platform were forced to pay for news.

Frydenberg said after weekend talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, that he was convinced that the platforms “do want to enter into these commercial arrangements.”

Frydenberg denied he had given ground to Zuckerberg and Pichai by agreeing to amend the legislation since their conversations.

“We have held the line and held it strongly,” Frydenberg said. “And the digital giants have been left in no doubt about the … government’s resolve.”

Google confirmed in a statement it was “in discussions with publishers large and small.” Facebook is also seeking news deals. Facebook said in a statement it didn’t have “anything to confirm at this time.”

The Australian deals with Google are being negotiated under Google’s own model, News Showcase. The company has reached pay deals with more than 450 publications globally since it launched News Showcase in October.

Investment bank JPMorgan estimated that Seven West Media could receive between 39.5 million Australian dollars ($30.6 million) and AU$69.2 million ($53.6 million) from its content deal with Google.

Google announced two weeks ago that it had begun paying seven far smaller Australian websites under News Showcase. Prices have not been revealed.

Facebook has a comparable product called Facebook News, but that is not available in Australia.

Some media analysts are surprised that Australian media companies would strike News Showcase deals when they stand to make more money from compulsory arbitration under the government’s code.

Frydenberg suggested that Google’s threat to quit Australia had receded as “the speed of these negotiations has picked up.”

“We have sought to keep the major players in Australia,” Frydenberg said. “Google had talked about leaving Australia. We never wanted that to take place. They are an important part of the digital landscape era.”

Marcus Strom, president of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Australian journalists’ union, said media companies had a moral obligation to invest the digital platforms’ revenue in news gathering.

“Any monies from these deals need to end up in the newsroom, not the boardroom,” Strom said.

“We will be pressing the case for transparency on how these funds are spent,” he added.

Google has faced pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for news. Last month, it signed a deal with a group of French publishers, paving the way for the company to make digital copyright payments. Under the agreement, Google will negotiate individual licensing deals with newspapers, with payments based on factors such as the amount published daily and monthly internet site traffic.

Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

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Kenney downplays apparent UCP disharmony after government MLAs take to social media – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is downplaying apparent disharmony inside his governing United Conservative Party after multiple elected officials took to social media criticizing the province’s reopening plan. 

On Tuesday, at least five government members of legislative assembly posted similarly-worded statements to social media. All of them expressed frustration that more restrictions weren’t lifted Tuesday despite the province being below a number of previously-stated benchmarks.

“Many people have questions about some of the inconsistent rules and moving goalposts,” Barnes wrote. “I know this and other issues have shaken the trust of Albertans.” 

Barnes also noted he heard about the limited reopening plans on social media, “the same time and way as most Albertans did.” 

Other government MLAs Ron Orr, Michaela Glasgo, Angela Pitt and Todd Loewen all posted similar messages to their social media, calling for looser restrictions and a regional reopening plan.

“I will take the concerns of my constituents back to the government in hopes it will make a difference,” reads the end of the statements posted by Barnes.

On Wednesday, Kenney said there’s “an ongoing debate” within the government caucus about the best COVID-19 response. 

“I welcome input from MLA’s of both parties,” said Kenney. “I’m not at all surprised that Albertans have a range of opinions on the right response to COVID, that’s been the case fromday one.”

“There’s quite a diversity of views there at the end of the day, the government is responsible for taking the expert public health advice of the chief medical officer and her team closely, studying the data, and making difficult decisions.” 

He noted had avoided lockdown measures like curfews and shelter in place orders seen in the United States and Europe. 

“I would say Alberta’s done a good job of balancing the different and very serious issues here.”

In February, Kenney rejected the idea of a regional reopening plan. 

“Transmission can happen very fast and we have to look at the broader trends — yes, in the regions, but also the whole province,” Kenney said on Feb. 11.

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Kenney downplays apparent UCP disharmony after government MLAs take to social media – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is downplaying apparent disharmony inside his governing United Conservative Party after multiple elected officials took to social media criticizing the province’s reopening plan. 

On Tuesday, at least five government members of legislative assembly posted similarly-worded statements to social media. All of them expressed frustration that more restrictions weren’t lifted Tuesday despite the province being below a number of previously-stated benchmarks.

“Many people have questions about some of the inconsistent rules and moving goalposts,” Barnes wrote. “I know this and other issues have shaken the trust of Albertans.” 

Barnes also noted he heard about the limited reopening plans on social media, “the same time and way as most Albertans did.” 

Other government MLAs Ron Orr, Michaela Glasgo, Angela Pitt and Todd Loewen all posted similar messages to their social media, calling for looser restrictions and a regional reopening plan.

“I will take the concerns of my constituents back to the government in hopes it will make a difference,” reads the end of the statements posted by Barnes.

On Wednesday, Kenney said there’s “an ongoing debate” within the government caucus about the best COVID-19 response. 

“I welcome input from MLA’s of both parties,” said Kenney. “I’m not at all surprised that Albertans have a range of opinions on the right response to COVID, that’s been the case fromday one.”

“There’s quite a diversity of views there at the end of the day, the government is responsible for taking the expert public health advice of the chief medical officer and her team closely, studying the data, and making difficult decisions.” 

He noted had avoided lockdown measures like curfews and shelter in place orders seen in the United States and Europe. 

“I would say Alberta’s done a good job of balancing the different and very serious issues here.”

In February, Kenney rejected the idea of a regional reopening plan. 

“Transmission can happen very fast and we have to look at the broader trends — yes, in the regions, but also the whole province,” Kenney said on Feb. 11.

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Singapore police investigate lawmaker over sign supporting hawkers: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Police in Singapore are investigating whether a parliamentarian broke a strict public order law after he held up a placard that called for support for local food businesses, local media reported on Wednesday.

Lawmaker Louis Ng posted four pictures on Facebook last June of himself with hawkers at a Singapore food centre, holding a piece of paper that read “support them” followed by a smiley face.

Organising or taking part in a public assembly without a police permit in Singapore is illegal, even if a demonstration is by only one person. Breaking the law can lead to a fine of up to S$5,000 ($3,760).

“The police have been looking into a possible offence of public assembly without permit by Member of Parliament Mr Louis Ng,” police said in a statement. “We have already interviewed Mr. Ng. Police investigations are ongoing.”

The police did not give further details. However, Ng, a member of the ruling People’s Action Party, referred to the incident in a Facebook post on Wednesday and said he had provided a statement to police.

“I wanted to urge our residents to support our hawkers and held a sign indicating this and took photos together with the hawkers,” he said on Facebook.

Last year, Singapore charged activist Jolovan Wham for staging a one-man protest without a permit over an incident in which he held up a sign bearing a crudely drawn smiley face outside a police station.

($1 = 1.3298 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Chen Lin; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Davies)

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