The news media bargaining code introduced today needs a safety net for small and regional publishers, said Helen Haines MP, after the Minister for Communications failed to commit to considering the impacts on small and regional publishers of the significant new law.

In Question Time today the Independent Federal Member for Indi asked the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher to commit to a statutory review of the code that specifically considers and reports on its impact on small and regional publishers.

The code requires Google and Facebook to negotiate a payment arrangement with news organisations for sharing news articles on their platforms.

Dr Haines, who supports the code and is a vocal advocate of the Save our Voices campaign, said she was disappointed that the Minister did not commit to the review which could protect small and regional publishers from being disadvantaged.

“Regional media outlets are facing increasingly tough conditions, with advertising revenues being rapidly eroded by digital platforms” she said.

“They’ve been under intense pressure for years and the pandemic and recession has accelerated this.

“We’ve seen far too many closures of regional newspapers. The impact of losing one of our mastheads in the electorate would be devastating

“This code is supposed to be supporting smaller publishers and working in the interests of regional media outlets. We need to make sure it actually does that.

“I made a formal submission to the draft legislation calling for this review, and for greater support for regional publishers to negotiate agreements.

“I’m glad the Code adopts my recommendation by allowing small and regional news organisations to collectively negotiate. But there is still a huge power imbalance. We need to make sure the Code actually protects the interests of our regional publishers and a review can do this.”

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