Australia: Media Bargaining Code critical for media survival

Australia’s journalists’ union, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) said a News Media Bargaining Code is critical for media outlets to survive. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the MEAA in calling for a clear timetable for discussions about developing an industry code to ensure a sustainable future for public interest journalism in Australia.

A woman looking at Social Media applications on an iPhone. Credit: MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP

The Australian government has said it will legislate for the code to be mandatory to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms. In its submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding the development of the code, MEAA said a decade of job losses and struggling media outlets have threatened Australia's news media industry. Digital disruption has led to falling revenues, particularly advertising income, as Google and Facebook have seen a surge in advertising income and market share.

MEAA’s media section federal president, Marcus Strom, said: “Since January 2019 more than 200 broadcast and print newsrooms have closed temporarily or for good. So far in 2020, Covid-19 has contributed to the suspension or permanent closure of more than 100 newspaper mastheads, many of them in regional Australia. We estimate that the Australian media is on track to lose a further 1000 editorial jobs this year alone.

The impact of this sudden and massive decline in Australian media is profound, according to MEAA. “It means that communities have lost their local voice and there is less scrutiny of powerful interests," Strom said.

The IFJ said: “A Media Bargaining Code would address the fair value of news content and content creation, whether it be a large media house or a freelancer. Journalism cannot survive without adequate funding to support quality journalism nationally, regionally and locally.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram