(Sydney) Australia’s standoff to force tech giants to pay for news content is also a power struggle between two of the world’s most powerful magnates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg, embarked on a generational conflict for media domination.
Some have seen Australia’s efforts to impose a binding code of conduct on the behemoths such as Facebook or Google a turning point for the internet, for the media, and even an issue for democracy.
But it’s also a power struggle between the barons of traditional media and their digital heirs.
So much so that Australian tech billionaire Cannon-Brookes has called Canberra’s desire to charge social media a “racketeering”.
The bill that would force digital giants to pay local media may bear the seal of the government, some experts believe they see the leg of News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch.
“This cause has been dear to our company for more than a decade,” said News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson, who explained that she had the “unwavering support” of the Australian magnate.
“Lame de fond”
“For many years we have been accused of fighting against the windmills of technology. But what was a lonely campaign, a pipe dream, has turned into a tidal wave, and it will benefit journalism and society alike. ”
For decades the billionaire born in South Melbourne, whose group controls Fox News, The Sun or Sky News Australia, exerted his political influence in the United States, Great Britain or Australia.
He controls two-thirds of the daily press circulating in the big cities of his native country. It even enjoys a monopoly in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin.
But the empire of the 89-year-old mogul has watched helplessly as giants like Facebook and Google take off, siphoning off advertising revenue crucial to the profitability of its titles.
Of the $ 100 worth of ads spent by Australian businesses now, 49 fall into Google’s pockets and 24 into Facebook’s, according to the Australian competition authority.
“For the benefit of News Corp. ”
“Make no mistake, this (code of conduct) was deliberately developed for the benefit of a small number of companies, like News Corp. and others, ”Lucie Krahulcova of the Digital Rights Watch organization told AFP.
An early version of the bill even excluded the public group ABC – which has long been fought against by the media from Mr. Murdoch and the conservative camp – from the list of recipients of Google and Facebook payments.
Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, very critical of Mr. Murdoch, said Friday before MPs in Canberra that this bill would solve the problems of domination of the giants of nology by “strengthening the weight of an existing monopoly, that of Murdoch ”.
“Everyone is afraid of Murdoch,” he denounced.
Everybody ? Not Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who hit back last week by making it known he would not comply with News Corp’s demands. and Australian media.
Rather than seek a compromise, like Google, Mr. Zuckerberg pulled out the heavy artillery and decided to block news content for Australian Internet users.
Result: since Thursday Australians can no longer share links to news sites and Australian media pages are no longer searchable via Facebook.
More than half a century separates the days when MM. Murdoch and Zuckerberg were born. But if the two men belong to two radically different eras, they have things in common.
There is their enormous political weight and the criticism that this influence arouses.
And this is not the first time that the two have clashed.
Mr. Murdoch’s efforts to break into social networks had collapsed with the fiasco of the 2005 takeover of the social network MySpace, which was sold at a loss a few years later, while Facebook continued to grow.
According to the Wired site, the two men had a muscular exchange in 2016 in Idaho, Mr. Murdoch had asked Mr. Zuckerberg to be more generous vis-à-vis the media, if he did not want that the Australian embarks on a global lobbying campaign.
These efforts paid off, at least partially, since Google has just agreed to pay “significant sums” in return for the content of the News Corp. press group.
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