Google says Australian antitrust law would hit small content creators

FILE PHOTO: A Google logo is shown at one of the company's office complexes in Irvine, California
FILE PHOTO: A Google logo is shown at one of the company's office complexes in Irvine, California, United States, July 27, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

August 17, 2020

By Renju Jose

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Google on Monday said a proposed antitrust law in Australia forcing tech firms to pay for news that appears on their social media websites would adversely impact individual content creators and channel operators.

Google said the law proposed last month would help big media firms artificially inflate their search ranking, luring more viewers to their platforms and giving them an unfair advantage over small contributors running their own websites or YouTube channels.

Google’s YouTube video service allows individuals and companies to create channels featuring advertisements that create revenue for both them and YouTube.

The U.S. tech giant said the law may also obligate it to give big news firms confidential data about systems that they could use to try to appear higher in rankings on YouTube, resulting in fewer views for content of smaller businesses.

“This law wouldn’t just impact the way Google and YouTube work with news media businesses – it would impact all of our Australian users,” Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva said in a post titled “Open letter to Australians”.

Australia at the end of July said it aimed to introduce the law this year requiring technology companies such as Google and Facebook Inc <FB.O> to pay media companies for news content.

Media companies’ share of advertising revenue has plummeted in the internet age. For every A$100 ($71.93) spent on online advertising in Australia, excluding classifieds, nearly a third goes to Google and Facebook, government estimates showed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the country’s competition watchdog, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Additional reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Christopher Cushing)