Microsoft President Brad Smith defended the Australian bill that requires online platforms, such as Google and Facebook, to pay media outlets to display their journalistic publications. In a statement released last week, Smith said he fully supports the proposed legislation in Australia and believes that the United States should copy the proposal.
The Australian government announced the initiative after a lengthy investigation that determined that the technology giants held too much power over the media, which could pose a threat to the functioning of democracy. On the Microsoft blog, Smith agreed that both revenue and the number of journalists employed in traditional media have fallen dramatically in recent decades, while readers and advertisers have migrated to social media. According to him, this appears as one of the main factors for the crisis in the democracy of the United States.
If it falls under the law – which only includes search engines that have a 20% market share – Microsoft said it accepts to pay for the media and invest to improve its search service, Bing. The site has only a 5% market share in Australia and states that “unlike Google, if we grow, we are prepared to accept the obligations of the new law, including sharing revenue with journalistic organizations, as proposed”.
According to the proposed Media Trading Code, Google and Facebook would be required to negotiate payments with each media company for the use of their content on the platforms. The companies said that if the bill is approved in Australia, they will consider changes to the platforms. Mark Zuckerberg’s social network said it could prevent users from sharing news on the site. Google, on the other hand, said it could simply stop providing search services in the country.