Microsoft has publicly backed the Federal Government’s proposed news media bargaining code, suggesting its search engine Bing could fill the gap if Google follows through on a threat to leave the Australian market.
- The Federal Government’s proposed news media bargaining code would force tech giants to pay for news content
- Google and Facebook are threatening to withdraw or limit their services if it’s introduced
- Microsoft isn’t covered by the current legislation but says it’s willing to comply with it
Google and Facebook have warned they could withdraw or limit their Australian services if the code is introduced, forcing them to pay for news content.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said he and CEO Satya Nadella spoke with Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.
Mr Smith said while Microsoft was not covered by the current legislation, it would be willing to follow the proposed rules.
“The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses,” he said in a statement.
“It also recognises the important role search plays, not only to consumers but to the thousands of Australian small businesses that rely on search and advertising technology to fund and support their organisations.”
Bing ‘comparable to our competitors’
Mr Smith said Microsoft recognised the role search advertising played for Australian small businesses and that Bing would be improved.
“Microsoft will ensure that small businesses who wish to transfer their advertising to Bing can do so simply and with no transfer costs,” he said.
“We will invest further to ensure Bing is comparable to our competitors and we remind people that they can help, with every search, Bing gets better at finding what you are looking for.”
Asked earlier this week about Google’s threat to withdraw from Australia, Mr Morrison said Microsoft would be “pretty happy if they did”.
“Talking to Satya who runs Microsoft, Bing would go off,” he told Sky News.
The code was proposed following years of complaints from traditional media outlets that social media platforms benefit from the work of journalists without compensation.
Google and Facebook continue to argue that media organisations benefit from referrals and clicks through to their websites.