The Public Interest Journalism Initiative (PIJI) and Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas (JNI) welcome the introduction to Parliament of the Government’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

“Both PIJI and JNI strongly support the underlying principle to include all content of public interest, including that of the national public broadcasters,” explained PIJI CEO Anna Draffin.

“We also welcome the mechanism to provide simple, no-bargaining agreements for participating news businesses as called for in our August submission.

“The ability to negotiate agreements outside of the Code is another positive addition, which will enable news businesses to move forward with existing drafted agreements if they so wish.”

The variety of options available to negotiate agreements, including collective bargaining and peak body representation, better reflect the broad spectrum of news media businesses – large and small – and their respective operational capacity for complex commercial agreements.

JNI CEO Mark Ryan also welcomed the recognition of original news, editorial independence and editorial costs as key ingredients within the Code.

“The inclusion of the cost of news production as a factor for consideration in determining remuneration, alongside requirements for professional standards, underscore the inherent value of quality news to the community,” he said.

The Code will operate with a professional standards test that requires news businesses to maintain editorial standards such as those under the Australian Press Council or Commercial Television Industry.

The Code will be reviewed within one year of commencement.

PIJI reiterates its statement encouraging all Federal MPs to ensure the Code’s journey through Parliament in order to support public interest journalism, which continues to be under significant threat, with more closures and job losses expected before Christmas.

PIJI and JNI also reiterate that this Code is one step in ensuring the future financial viability of public interest journalism, not a magic pill. Other measures will be required to support the industry, including options PIJI is exploring in its research, including tax concessions and a public interest journalism fund.

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