Australia to make Facebook, Google pay for news in world first

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Australia will force US tech giants Facebook and Google to pay the country's media outlets for news content under a royalty-style system that will become law this year

"It's about a fair go for Australian news media businesses. It's about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and a sustainable media landscape," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne.

"Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake."

The move comes as the tech giants fend off calls around the world for greater regulation, and a day after Google and Facebook took a battering for alleged abuse of market power from US lawmakers in a congressional hearing.

Following an inquiry into the state of the media market and the power of the US platforms, the Australian government late last year told Facebook and Google to negotiate a voluntary deal with media companies to use their content.

Those talks went nowhere and Canberra now says if an agreement cannot be reached through arbitration within 45 days, then the Australian Communications and Media Authority would set legally binding terms on behalf of the government.

Google said the regulation ignores "billions of clicks" that it sends to Australian news publishers each year.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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