- Australia has introduced new media laws
- Big tech companies have called the laws impractical
- Tech companies warned against withdrawing essential services if regulations were enacted
Software giant Microsoft Corp is confident that its search product, Bing, can fill the void in Australia if Google conducts its search for required payments to media companies, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday.
Australia has put in place laws that would force internet giant Google and social media heavyweight Facebook Inc to negotiate payments to domestic media companies whose content links drive traffic to their platforms.
However, the big tech firms have called the laws impractical and announced last month that they would be withdrawing key services from Australia when the rules go into effect. These services include Google’s search engine, which, according to industry data, accounts for 94% of the country’s search market.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has since spoken to Morrison about the new rules, the tech company told Reuters, and on Monday Morrison said the software company was ready to expand the presence of its search tool, Bing, the distant No. 2 player.
“I can tell you that Microsoft is pretty confident when I spoke to Satya,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra, without giving any further details of the conversation.
A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the discussion had taken place but declined to comment because the company was not directly involved in the laws.
“We recognize the importance of a vibrant media sector and journalism of public interest in a democracy and recognize the challenges that the media sector has faced over many years through changing business models and consumer preferences,” said the spokeswoman.
Google declined to comment.
A day earlier, Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg had asked to meet on the law and they had spoken, but he would not reverse the change.
At a Senate hearing on the law, Treasury Deputy Market Secretary Meghan Quinn said the Australian government had limited action if Google’s exit harmed companies that rely on their search functionality.
“The (media negotiation) code does not prevent services from being withdrawn on a large scale, and there are difficulties with the legislative mechanisms we have to (force) someone to provide services,” Quinn said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)