OPINION BY: Martin Turner, WA President of the Media Section at the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
“I’m just not that into you,” says Mark Z. He’s looking uncomfortable, despite the fact he was able to get someone to spend a couple of days designing a GIF for his announcement with the spare change from his man bag.
Josh F is looking a bit startled, which is probably a bad look for the Treasurer of a country, but he manages to gather his reserves of strength and well, money (he does have a treasury behind him, of course). “I won’t be bullied by you,” he declares.
Of course, we’ve all been bullied by the likes of Mark Z for decades now, as wealth has been allowed to accumulate in mind-bending amounts in the accounts of the few. The mantra is: let the market duke it out, watch the fall-out, declare the fall-out is part of the market, shrug shoulders, repeat.
Except now other wealthy types a bit closer to home are getting a bit tired of missing out.
Sorry. If you’re wondering about all this, I’m referring to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s draft Mandatory News Media and Digital Platforms Bargaining Code.
The aim is to get even with tech giants by making them pay for the benefits of the clicks they get from sharing news on their platforms. They are not amused.
Curiously, members of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance from the ABC and SBS won’t benefit from the largesse (anywhere from a reasonable amount of millions to the billion range, depending whose eyes are looking bigger while they salivate).
Established media in this country will get the majority of the takings if this legislation sticks.
Look, I’m not for a minute suggesting it doesn’t matter that these multinational players can skim our content to their benefit. Sure, it seems frivolous when you’re dealing with a guy who took over our whole media landscape by developing a site comparing the faces of female Ivy League students.
But if you’ve been in this industry for an extended period of time, you know we all saw this coming, watched our old-timers waving their walking canes at it, watched slightly younger timers shaking their retro skateboards at it. While they could continue to pay massive executive salaries, they just screwed down the ordinary working journalist further and further.
Now the numbers just don’t stack up anymore and we’re made to endure this break-up.
So OK, if it’s real, MEAA wants the regions to benefit, whose news services are dying. We want a fair go for the small players. And ABC. And SBS.
If there really is a way to stop billionaires distorting the market in ways that are becoming increasingly obvious to every ordinary working person, please bring it on. There are plenty of young journos facing the prospect of precarious work and slave wages as amounting to their ‘career’ in this industry who will take to social media to support that.