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IFJ says Australian plan to make tech giants pay for news must go to fund public interest journalism

THE International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on Australia to ensure a plan to make Google and Facebook pay for news content helps to fund public interest journalism rather than enrich existing media monopolies.

A law that will require the tech giants to negotiate payment with news outlets for linking to their content will be debated in the Australian Parliament after the Senate economics legislation committee said today it was happy with the draft.

The committee’s report said that “public interest journalism is a cornerstone of democracy and its survival is imperative in a society increasingly vulnerable to misleading information.”

Free access to news shared on social media has contributed to a decline in people buying newspapers, leading to the demise of many local titles or their acquisition by larger groups, concentrating media ownership and costing journalists’ jobs.

IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said while the draft law was welcome, it needed to be “bigger, bolder and ensure that the money raised does not just go to propping up the same monopoly media owners, but is used to build and sustain a genuinely public interest media — supporting, among others, community, not-for-profit and local media, ensuring the money is not used to fund more mergers and acquisitions or reward shareholders but to pay journalists a fair share of the profits made from their work.

“Facebook and Google are guilty of excessive profiteering. It is time not only to make them pay a fair share for the content they use but to tax their profits and use those funds to support a news recovery plan.”

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