Tech giants, terrified by regulatory threats around the world, are finally starting to pay news companies for their content, giving a glimmer of hope to the struggling news industry at a critical time during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Without government intervention, experts predict that many high-quality news outlets will eventually collapse, creating a more serious global misinformation problem.

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  • “I think it’s a moment when, given the events of 2020, people understand the importance of news publishing,” said David Chavern, president and chief executive officer of the News Media Alliance, which represents thousands of US news publishers.

  • “People understand that now is the time to do something for the news,”

Driving messages: Australian regulators have put in place a new code of bargaining that would make it the first country to force both Google and Facebook to pay news publishers or impose heavy fines for their content.

  • Both Facebook and Google have warned When the Code goes into effect, they will source their services from the region, arguing that the law is not fair and would make it economically unprofitable to operate in Australia.

  • Facebook says it would prevent users from sharing news links in Australia. Google says it needs to stop making Google search available in the country.

  • Other tech giants can be added to the code if regulators find enough evidence that their size or scope can create a power imbalance with news companies.

  • Microsoft threw its support behind the code Wednesday, suggesting its Bing search engine could become a strong replacement for Google in the region.

The big picture: The Australian Code of Conduct will serve as the litmus test of the best ways to update their laws for many countries around the world.

  • The European Parliament approved a copyright directive in 2019, which includes a provision member states can use as a framework to force tech platforms to pay publishers for their content.

  • France was the first member state to ratify the law shortly afterwards. Last month, after months of negotiations with publishers, Google finally agreed to pay French publishers for their content.

In the USA, Lawmakers have moved more slowly than their overseas counterparts, but Australia’s efforts have caught the attention of some members of Congress, Chavern said.

The story goes on

  • Non-partisan bills, previously introduced in the House and Senate, would enable newspapers to negotiate with dominant online platforms on money, attribution, branding and other issues.

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Who will chair the Antitrust Subcommittee, told Axios’ Ashley Gold on Wednesday that she intended to reintroduce such a bill.

  • She had previously introduced the Journalists Competition and Conservation Act with Senator John Kennedy (R-La.), Which co-sponsored then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Be clever: The global proposals have forced the tech giants to develop new features that can be used to channel money to news agencies without having to completely rethink their businesses.

  • Google said last fall it would pay publishers $ 1 billion to have their content featured in a new product called the Google News Showcase.

  • Facebook spent millions of dollars paying publishers to be part of their Facebook News tab. Facebook News was launched in the UK last week

The bottom line: Tech giants are showing that they are willing to pay for quality news – but only on terms they consider acceptable.

Go deeper: The power pendulum swings back to news company.

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