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Google labels Australia's news media bargaining code as 'unfair' – ZDNet



Google has responded to the federal government’s move to back media organisations in bargaining to secure “fair” payment for news content shown on its platform, labelling the imminent regulation as putting the way Aussies search every day on Google at risk.

“We need to let you know about new government regulation that will hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube,” it writes in an open letter penned by local MD Mel Silva.

“A proposed law, the News Media Bargaining Code, would force us to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube, could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia.”

The draft code of practice, published last month by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), adopts a model based on negotiation, mediation, and arbitration to “best facilitate genuine commercial bargaining between parties, allowing commercially negotiated outcomes suited to different business models used by Australian news media businesses”.

The watchdog believes the code is necessary to address the fundamental bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and major digital platforms.

Read more: Google and Facebook to bargain with Aussie news outlets for ‘fair’ payment terms

“You’ve always relied on Google Search and YouTube to show you what’s most relevant and helpful to you. We could no longer guarantee that under this law,” Google wrote.

“The law would force us to give an unfair advantage to one group of businesses — news media businesses — over everyone else who has a website, YouTube channel, or small business.”

The search giant believes news media businesses alone would be given information that would help them “artificially inflate their ranking over everyone else”.

“We’ve always treated all website owners fairly when it comes to information we share about ranking,” the letter continued. “The proposed changes are not fair and they mean that Google Search results and YouTube will be worse for you.”

Google considers that under the new code, as it is currently drafted, there would be no way of knowing if any data handed over would be protected, or how it might be used by news media businesses.

With ACCC chair Rod Sims saying digital platforms derive a significant benefit from making Australian news available on their services, a benefit that is “extremely challenging for the government to quantify”, Google is of the belief the regulation would hurt the free services everyone uses, not benefit them.

“We deeply believe in the importance of news to society. We partner closely with Australian news media businesses — we already pay them millions of dollars and send them billions of free clicks every year,” Google said.

“We’ve offered to pay more to license content. But rather than encouraging these types of partnerships, the law is set up to give big media companies special treatment and to encourage them to make enormous and unreasonable demands that would put our free services at risk.

“We’re going to do everything we possibly can to get this proposal changed so we can protect how Search and YouTube work for you in Australia and continue to build constructive partnerships with news media businesses — not choose one over the other.”


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City probes racist, sexist social media posts by fire-paramedic staff – Winnipeg Free Press



The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is investigating social media posts by employees that allegedly contained racist and sexist content, offences the service says could trigger penalties that range up to termination.

A Sept. 18 memo written by WFPS chief John Lane, which was obtained by the Free Press, notes the service had issued social media guidelines for its employees, which were meant to ensure a diverse and welcoming workplace. Lane wrote that it took place in the midst of worldwide discussions about “racism, sexism, prejudice, and other threats to these core values.”

“Unfortunately… it is apparent that unacceptable behaviours continue on social media and occasionally among individuals. Instances have recently been brought to our attention. This is profoundly disappointing for me, both professionally and personally,” Lane wrote.

“Unfortunately… it is apparent that unacceptable behaviours continue on social media and occasionally among individuals.” –John Lane

The WFPS memo states that the incidents will be investigated, noting employees who have violated the city’s code of conduct and/or other rules may face discipline “up to and including termination of employment.”

Lane also urges all staff to report any behaviour that doesn’t meet city standards and notes a third party will be sought out to ensure that process is confidential.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU), which represents Winnipeg paramedics, said members have complained about racist and/or sexist posts by other WFPS staff, as well as some in-person interactions.

Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU’s president, said the issue has been reported since at least June, so the city must quickly move to address it.

“People should be thinking about the effect of what they’re putting up on social media at all times.” –Michelle Gawronsky

“It definitely is not stopping. We’ve been able to provide the employer with documents showing that. And so we are looking for some action now,” said Gawronsky.

She said WFPS must do something promptly to ensure better workplace conditions, an effort that could start with staff education.

“Frontline paramedics, in fact all workers, have the right to go to work and feel safe and secure in their jobs and not have to put up with any racism or sexism,” said Gawronsky.

The union leader said she believes the city must address all of the complaints, including those linked to personal social media accounts.

“When… it’s hurting other people, it is not acceptable at all. People should be thinking about the effect of what they’re putting up on social media at all times,” she said.

Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg union, declined to comment, stating he had little knowledge of the investigation.

In an emailed statement, WFPS spokesperson Kristin Cuma did not answer specific questions about the number or nature of the complaints, the number of employees affected or the timeline of the investigation.

“No information will be provided about specific human resources matters involving individuals,” wrote Cuma.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga


Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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Trump Media Agency Boss Explains Non-Appearance to House Panel – BNN



(Bloomberg) — The chief of the agency that oversees the Voice of America and other media organizations told the chairman of a congressional committee that subpoenaed him that he couldn’t appear because of a scheduling conflict.

Michael Pack, who earlier this year took charge of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, had angered both Democrats and Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee when he defied the subpoena to testify about changes at the agency.

In a letter to the panel’s chairman, Eliot Engel, on Wednesday, Pack said he was “disappointed to receive your subpoena” and “eager to testify.” He complained in the letter that the panel’s staff had refused to accept other dates.

“As we have repeatedly explained to the committee, USAGM has become preoccupied with a series of pressing and complex matters necessary to correct over a decade of systemic security failures. In view of these genuine and urgent conflicts, we requested a brief adjournment so that I may appear a few weeks later.”

He added that he “could not provide complete information concerning the pressing internal matters.”

He was originally scheduled to appear voluntarily on Thursday, and the committee issued the subpoena last week after he withdrew.

Engel, a New York Democrat, said Tuesday that it was Pack who had failed to provide alternative dates or offer an acceptable excuse.

Pack’s withdrawal also drew a strong statement from the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, who called for Pack to testify. In a sharply divided Congress, the bipartisan response was unusual, particularly with regard to pressing a Trump nominee to appear before a committee controlled by Democrats.

McCaul said that since being confirmed by the Senate in June, Pack had placed critical national security programs “in jeopardy” and that he “needs to come before this committee and explain those actions.”

In June, Pack dismissed the heads of four news organizations, including Radio Free Europe, as well as staff and governing board members at the Open Technology Fund, or OTF, an organization that promotes internet freedom abroad and receives grant money from the Agency for Global Media. McCaul was one of the lead authors of a measure that would establish the OTF as an independent grantee of the agency.

Pack’s nomination by President Donald Trump drew heated opposition from Senate Democrats, both for his association with former Trump campaign and White House adviser Steve Bannon, but also over unresolved questions about his business dealings while running an nonprofit media organization called the Public Media Lab. The attorney general of the District of Columbia is investigating the organization for unlawful use of funds.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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French media: Raspy-voiced singer Juliette Greco dead at 93 – Preeceville Progress



PARIS — Juliette Greco, a French singer, actress, cultural icon and muse to existentialist philosophers of the country’s post-War period, has died aged 93, French media said Wednesday.

They said Greco died in her Ramatuelle house in the south of France, near Saint Tropez.

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The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, tweeted that “a very grand lady, an immense artist has gone.”

With expressive eyes inherited from her Greek ancestors and an impossibly deep, raspy voice — acquired from years of cigarette-smoking — Greco immortalized some of France’s most recognizable songs in an enduring seven-decade career, including the classics “Soul le ciel de Paris” (Under the Parisian sky) and “Je hais les dimanches” (I hate Sundays).

Greco was born in Montpellier on February 7, 1927, and went on to become a French music and fashion icon whose bobbed hair, Cleopatra-style eye-lines and demure black clothes became synonymous with the rebellious 1960s.

In March, 2016, Greco suffered a stroke while she was stopping off in Lyon as part of her tour, and cancelled the rest of her concerts. It was the same year that her only daughter, Laurence-Marie, died, of cancer.

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