Microsoft Backs Australian Plan to Make Google Pay for News

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos Credit Reuters

The News Media Bargaining Code of Australia will force the two companies to pay news agencies if their contents appear on their respective platforms. Smith says that Microsoft also recognises the importance of search, not only in the lives of consumers but to the hundreds of thousands of Aussie small businesses which rely on the power of search and advertising techn to support their organisations.

United States technology giant Microsoft offered Wednesday to fill the void if rival Google follows through on a threat to turn off its search engine in Australia over government plans to make it pay for news content.

On Feb. 3, Microsoft has thrown its support behind the Australian Federal Government's efforts to pass a proposed media bargaining code.

Regardless, Microsoft is not shying away from at least positioning itself to take some of the Australian search ad revenue pie, with Smith stating: "Microsoft will ensure that small businesses who wish to transfer their advertising to Bing can do so simply and with no transfer costs".

"If they do make good on their threat, given how dominant Google is in this sphere, it's time to seriously consider what a replacement would be".

With Google threatening to block searches in the land Down Under, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that they could just replace the search engine.

While the thought of Google fully removing its search services from Australia does seem rather extreme, it is important to emphasise that, if such a thing were to occur, YouTube, Gmail, and the various other wings of the Google brand would likely remain untouched.

The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code would see Google and Facebook forced to negotiate with registered media outlets in Australia to share revenue gained from their use of news content, and is now being considered by a Senate Committee. Google has called the code "unreasonable" and "unworkable", according to CNBC.

The tech juggernaut also said the draft legislation "reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses". Microsoft Corp, in response to the same, said that it is committed to the country and its news publishers that are key and vital to the democracy of the country.

Morrison, at the National Press Club, said he is confident Aussies would have sufficient alternatives if the tech giant Google decides to move ahead with its threat, pointing towards a meeting he had with Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO.

It also said that it is willing to adjust to the country's rules even if Microsoft is not subject to the legislation.

Australia Institute Centre for Responsible Technology director Peter Lewis welcomed Microsoft's bold announcement, saying it "should send a message to both Google and Facebook".

Swinburne University senior lecturer on media Belinda Barnet said Bing and other search engines could fill the void left by Google and deliver benefits.

Facebook told a Senate inquiry into the proposed code that it would stop letting users post links to Australian news if it becomes law.

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