SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia will pass legislation within months obliging Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to share advertising revenue with local media firms, the country’s treasurer said on Monday, becoming one of the first countries to require digital platforms to pay for content they use.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement the move comes after talks with Facebook and Alphabet failed to yield a voluntary code to address complaints by domestic media players that the tech giants have too tight a grip on advertising, their main source of income.
“On the fundamental issue of payment for content, which the code was seeking to resolve, there was no meaningful progress,” the treasurer said in a separate opinion piece in The Australian newspaper.
Australia’s online advertising market is worth about worth almost A$9 billion ($5.72 billion) a year and has grown more than eight-fold since 2005, Frydenberg wrote. For every A$100 spent on online advertising in Australia, excluding classifieds, nearly a third goes to Google and Facebook.
Last December, Australia said Google and Facebook would have to agree to new rules to ensure they do not abuse their market power and damage competition, or the government would impose new controls.
On Monday Frydenberg said the government has now asked the country’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code of conduct between media outlets and digital platforms.
The initial plan to come up a voluntary code by November has been scrapped, Frydenberg said. The ACCC will submit its draft mandatory code by July, to be passed into legislation shortly thereafter, he said.
“The problem with that is that some of that information they are providing consumers for free has come from people who have invested a lot of money in journalism and the case of media to provide that content,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Facebook expressed dismay at the government move on Monday.
“We’re disappointed by the government’s announcement, especially as we’ve worked hard to meet their agreed deadline,” Facebook said.
“We’ve invested millions of dollars locally to support Australian publishers through content arrangements, partnerships and training for the industry,” Facebook Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Will Easton said in an emailed statement.
Google said it would continue to cooperate with plans for the media code of conduct.
“We have sought to work constructively with industry, the ACCC and government to develop a code of conduct, and we will continue to do so in the revised process set out by the Government today,” a Google spokesperson said.
Monday’s move also comes as the new coronavirus pandemic hits Australia’s media business hard, with several regional outlets reporting steep declines in advertising revenue.
Pending the new code, the federal government last week unveiled a support package for the local media businesses including a 12-month waiver of spectrum tax for commercial television and radio broadcasters, and a A$50 million public interest news gathering programme.
(Reporting by Renju Jose and Colin Packham; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
Media firms, celebrities join #BlackOutTuesday protests – The Globe and Mail
Major broadcasters, celebrities and music streaming companies including Apple Music and Spotify turned off or made changes to their services on Tuesday to mark their solidarity with protests against the killing of George Floyd.
ViacomCBS Inc said it will be on “on pause” for #BlackOutTuesday to reflect on recent events and to shift focus from “building business to building community.”
The company on Monday had its channels, including CBS News, MTV and Comedy Central, transmit 8 minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe,” denouncing the incident last week that sparked protests across America.
A Minneapolis police officer was arrested last week on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd.
Celebrities including Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kylie Jenner all went dark on social media to acknowledge Floyd’s death.
NBA stars including LeBron James and Steph Curry posted an empty black photo on their Instagram pages. The league’s official page posted the same photo with the hashtag “#NBATogether.”
Streaming giant Spotify Technology said it would feature an 8 minute and 46 second long track of silence in select podcasts and playlists on Tuesday, while also halting social media publications.
Apple Music said it would use the day to reflect and plan actions to support black artists, creators and communities.
Dozens of artists and sports stars have spoken out against Floyd’s death and the racism they say lay behind it as the protests spread through U.S. cities.
Leading record labels said they would mark Tuesday by suspending business and working with communities to fight racial inequality.
“Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart!,” Rihanna wrote on Instagram.
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What is Blackout Tuesday? The social media trend and controversy around it, explained – For The Win
Welcome to FTW Explains: a guide to catching up on and better understanding stuff going on in the world.
You may have seen a hashtag at the top of social media trends —#BlackoutTuesday — this morning. You may have also seen some people criticizing the movement, and wondered exactly what is going on.
That’s what this post is for. We’re here to explain what’s going on with this movement, which started in the music industry but appears to have seeped into other businesses, but it’s also caused some controversy.
Let’s break it all down for you, starting with the first question you might have.
What is Blackout Tuesday?
As protests and unrest over the death of George Floyd continue around the United States, a movement was started by music execs Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who wrote on a site that Tuesday, June 2 would be a day to pause all business and take a stand against the “racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”
The movement would take the form of people posting all black pictures to Instagram and other social media platforms.
Who is participating?
Artists from Quincy Jones to Mick Jagger, with music companies and studios, all announced they would be participating ahead of June 2:
How do people join in?
They post a completely black square on social media, like these companies, sports teams and celebrities did, with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused.
You said there were criticisms about the movement?
Part of the controversy stems with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Many people participating in the movement are using the hashtag along with their posts. But the hashtag #blacklivesmatter is normally used as a tool for protestors to communicate information through social media.
With the blackout, it’s being rendered useless as a hashtag. Now, when people click on the hashtag, they’re being confronted with a sea of black squares and not with anything about what’s going on with protests across the country.
But there are also larger complaints about the movement, saying this is a time to spread awareness, and not just literally “black out” social media feeds. There are arguments that now, more than ever, is when communication shouldn’t be “blacked out.”
Are there any proposed solutions?
To start, organizers are asking users to stop tagging those images with #BlackLivesMatter and stick with either #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused.
Wuhan doctor at whistleblower's hospital dies from coronavirus, state media report – CTV News
BEIJING, CHINA —
A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus on Tuesday, state media reported, becoming China’s first COVID-19 fatality in weeks.
Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, passed away after being treated for COVID-19 and allied issues for more than four months, state broadcaster CCTV said.
He is the sixth doctor from Wuhan Central Hospital to have died from the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city late last year.
Cases have dwindled dramatically from the peak in mid-February as the country appears to have brought the outbreak largely under control.
The official death toll in the country of 1.4 billion people stands at 4,634 — well below the number of fatalities in less populous nations.
Wuhan Central Hospital has yet to give a formal statement on Hu’s death. In early February it said some 68 staff members had contracted coronavirus.
Hu’s condition became a national concern after Chinese media showed images of him with his skin turned black due to liver damage.
Fellow doctor Yi Fan showed similar symptoms, but recovered and has since been discharged from hospital.
The death of their colleague Li Wenliang in February triggered a national outpouring of grief and rage against the government as he documented his final days on social media.
The 34-year-old ophthalmologist was reprimanded by authorities after he warned colleagues about the virus in late December.
Beijing has since named him a national martyr, but suppressed much of the dissent and criticism sparked by his death.
Other medical whistleblowers at Wuhan Central Hospital — including emergency unit director Ai Fen — have told Chinese media they were punished by authorities for speaking out.
China has not released a complete figure of the number of medical worker deaths from COVID-19, but at least 34 medics have been awarded posthumous honours by health authorities.
In February the National Health Commission said about 3,387 health workers had been infected.
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