Review of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code

May, 2022

PIJI’s submission to Treasury’s Review of the News Media and Digital Platforms Bargaining Code is informed by data from PIJI’s Australian Newsroom Mapping Project showing that 12 months after the legislation was introduced, 41% of local print and digital outlets were not covered by deals under the Code.

With the aim of improving media diversity and the provision of public interest journalism, PIJI’s submission makes a range of recommendations to the Federal Government, including;

  • Clarifying the terms for designation under the Code to reduce uncertainty for the sector, and
  • Introducing an R&D style tax rebate to ensure sector viability in the face of ongoing market volatility

PIJI’s submission notes that while the Code has resulted in new sector investment, an uneven playing field is emerging between those news businesses with increased financial capacity from deals and those without. The addition of television and radio news data into PIJI’s Australian News Index dataset is expected to increase the number of news businesses and outlets without reported deals.

Key Recommendations

PIJI’s recommendations to the Review of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code include that:

• The NMBC Review includes all available data in its final report and that the report be made
publicly available;
• Government establish a clear set of guidelines including financial and non-financial measures;
to be considered in determining the designation of a platform under the Code;
• The Code be reviewed every two (2) years after the initial review is completed;
• In the event a digital platform is designated, the Code be reviewed 12 months from date of
designation, and then revert to the recommended two-year cycle;
• The Professional Standards Test include all existing industry codes registered by ACMA under
Part 9 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth);
• The Professional Standards Test be amended so that registered news businesses are subject
to the oversight of an external complaints process and,
• The Government considers a R&D-style tax rebate as a complement to the Code to strengthen
sustainable investment in public interest journalism and create transparent, public benefit.

Project Team

The submission was prepared PIJI staff:

  • Anna Draffin, Chief Executive Officer, Public Interest Journalism Initiative and,
  • Gary Dickson, Research and Projects Manager, Public Interest Journalism Initiative,

with the support of PIJI’s Policy Working Group.

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