Microsoft drives home media compensation around the world

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Microsoft tried to rally North America and Europe Thursday to its proposal to pay the media for their content, on the model of an Australian bill that Google and Facebook refuse.

• Read also: The web giants’ disinformation campaign

• Read also: Google threatens to block its search engine in Australia

The American computer giant had already indicated last week that it was ready to fill the void that Google could leave if it suspended its search engine in Australia, in response to the “binding code of conduct” that the government wants impose on large platforms.

This law would govern the relations between traditional media in great financial difficulty and the giants which dominate the Internet and capture a significant share of advertising revenues.

Both Facebook and Google have threatened to suspend their services if the Australian project is implemented in its current form.

“People have asked us if Microsoft would support similar proposals in the United States, Canada, the European Union and other countries. The short answer is yes, ”said Brad Smith, president of the Seattle group, in a statement released Thursday.

Microsoft drives home media compensation around the world

The idea of ​​remunerating the press according to the traffic that the titles generate on search engines “has been explored in certain European countries, but with limited success,” he notes.

“The reason is that it is difficult to negotiate with a monopoly company. You got a whale or two on one side of the table of nations and dozens and hundreds of little fish on the other side. This results in long and expensive negotiations which leave the small fry hungry ”.

Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, only accounts for 5% of the market share in Australia. It reaches 15% -20% on PC and mobile searches in the United States, according to Brad Smith, and 10% -15% in Canada and the United Kingdom.

“But if we have a realistic prospect of gaining market share, we are confident in our ability to build the service Australians need,” he insisted.

The code of conduct devised by the Australian government requires Google and Facebook to negotiate with each media a remuneration for the recovery of their content. If there is no agreement, an arbitrator would decide.

Australia’s biggest news groups, News Corp and Nine Entertainment, have estimated the compensation will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Google and Facebook, backed by the US government, have said the project would undermine their business model and the very functioning of the internet.

“The United States should not oppose a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support the free press. They should instead copy it, ”concluded Brad Smith.

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