Home / News / India /  DNPA Dialogues: Indian publishers, Australian experts discuss Big Tech monopoly

Several leading media organizations and Australia’s think tank and antitrust regulatory circles converged on Friday at the inaugural edition of the DNPA Dialogues, a first-of-its-kind conference to be hosted by the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA).

India’s media industry exchanged ideas with Australian dignitaries and brainstormed ways to build better, fairer, and more fruitful partnerships between tech giants, such as Google and Facebook, and the country’s news publishers.

Rod Sims, former Australian antitrust stalwart, was the keynote speaker at India’s first-of-its-kind roundtable on emerging changes in Big Tech and Digital Media relationships, hosted by the Digital News Publishers Association. Sims was instrumental in getting Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code rolled out, which made it easier for Australian news media to sign deals with tech platforms such as Google and Facebook. He headed Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) from 2011-2022. He is now a professor with the Crawford School of Public Policy at Australian National University, and Chairman of the Steering Committee, Competition Research Policy Network at the Centre for Economic Policy Research, in London.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Act 2021 (the code) is a mandatory code of conduct that governs commercial relationships between Australian news businesses and ‘designated’ digital platforms that benefit from a significant bargaining power imbalance.

Australia has witnessed a positive outcome from Google and Meta's deal with the leading media businesses in the country, Sims said. He said the news media bargaining code is a great way to improve journalism in the countries.

According to Sims, it is the best time to be a journalist.

Pawan Agarwal, Managing Director of DB Corp Ltd, asked Sims about the future of journalism. Sims replied that there should be legislation supported by all parties including the government, opposition, independent, as well as media.

"Laws of India will protect the journalism," Sims said.

Further, speaker Emma McDonald, Senior Policy Adviser at Minderoo Foundation, said it was "tense and stressful" while dealing with Facebook and Google while she was working with the Australian Government. However, because of the legislation, positive changes have happened in the Australian media industry, she added.

Puneet Jain, Chief Executive Officer of HT Digital, asked McDonald about the areas where platforms and publishers can engage closely. "How do publishers work with platforms on areas like user data, which is currently leveraged by platforms?" Jain asked.

McDonald responded: "The publishers and platforms are partnering with universities academics. They are also offering grants to support journalism. Google and Facebook organize skill development programs". However, she said there is an issue with dependency on these platforms.

Peter Lewis, Director at The Australia Institute, said that with the help of the News Media Bargaining Code, the media houses in Australia have 'good' quality articles and there is a hiring spree in media companies.

Paul Thomas, Managing Director, Star News Group pty ltd, said there has been a significant rise in small publishers, and the profits have mounted. There's also flexibility in content, and believed that the future is promising with the new media code, he said.

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