Mogul Vs Mogul: Australia's Tech Law Pits Murdoch Against Zuckerberg
Daniyal Sohail 7 days ago Mon 22nd February 2021 | 01:36 PM
Australia's push to regulate tech giants has become a power struggle between two of the world's most powerful men, with Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg locked in a generational battle for media dominance
Sydney, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Feb, 2021 ) :Australia's push to regulate tech giants has become a power struggle between two of the world's most powerful men, with Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg locked in a generational battle for media dominance.
Efforts in Australia to make Google and Facebook pay for news has garnered worldwide attention, creating what some call a defining moment for the web and for journalism, and even a litmus test for democracy.
But beyond the high-sounding rhetoric lies a more base struggle, with the barons of traditional media fighting back against their digital heirs.
Sydney tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes went as far as calling the Australian push to force payments for content a "shakedown".
"This has been a passionate cause for our company for well over a decade," said News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson, hailing his boss' "fervent, unstinting support" for the cause.
"For many years, we were accused of tilting at tech windmills, but what was a solitary campaign, a quixotic quest, has become a movement, and both journalism and society will be enhanced." For decades, the Melbourne-born billionaire behind Fox News, The Sun and Sky News Australia has bestraddled politics in the United States, Britain and Down Under.
That has prompted critics to paint the 89-year-old in almost cartoonish terms -- as an all-powerful political puppetmaster.
- 'Frightened of Murdoch' - At the turn of the millennium, newspapers had 96 percent of Australia's classified revenues. Now, that is down to around 12 percent.
For every $100 spent by Australian advertisers today, $49 goes to Google and $24 to Facebook, according to the country's competition watchdog, which proposed the law in direct response to this duopoly.
"Let's not kid around, this was very deliberately designed to put money in the pockets of a very few specific companies -- News Corp and others," Lucie Krahulcova of advocacy group Digital Rights Watch told AFP.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd, an outspoken Murdoch critic, told lawmakers in Canberra on Friday that the proposed laws solved the digital dominance problem "by enhancing the power of the existing monopoly -- that's Murdoch".
"Everyone is frightened of Murdoch," he maintained.
- Enormous political power - The two men were born more than three decades part and come from staggeringly different eras, but both wield enormous political power.
Where Murdoch could hobble governments or torpedo campaigns with a rapier front-page splash, Zuckerberg's platform can change the tenor of a US election campaign.
Like Murdoch, Zuckerberg has come under fierce scrutiny for his influence over society.
It is also not the first time they have tussled.
According to reports by tech magazine and website Wired, the pair had a testy exchange in Sun Valley, Idaho in 2016, with Zuckerberg allegedly warned to offer publishers a better deal or expect New Corp to lobby regulators around the world.