The code was initially devised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission at the request of Treasury following a year long inquiry, and is designed to force the internet giants to pay publishers for news content.
Tech giants have fiercely opposed the draft version of the code, with Facebook declaring that it would be forced to ban news in Australia if it became law, and Google threatening to quit Australia altogether.
The search advertising giant is expected to reiterate its concerns about the code in a blog post tomorrow, but that it is also prepared to make concessions.
The draft version would give digital platforms three months to strike deals to pay news organisations for their content before they would be forced to enter a binding “final offer” negotiation process. In the “final offer” process, an arbitrator would select one of the negotiating parties’ proposals – whichever it deems more reasonable.
It also requires Google and Facebook to provide data to media companies and advance notice of changes to their algorithms. The tech giants have objected to these requirements as unfair and unworkable. The internet giants have also argued that the draft code does not take into account the value of the referral traffic they send publishers.
But media companies have been pushing the government to urgently legislate the code to fight the tech giants’ market power and are concerned it is being delayed to accommodate their demands.
If a final version of the code is agreed following the final, confidential consultations with Treasury, the code could reach parliament in the last two sitting weeks of the year. Treasury was approached for comment.
ACCC chair Rod Sims handed his final policy advice to government in late October. While he originally told this masthead there would only be minor changes to the final version, industry sources have said that it could now be substantially different.
Mr Sims did not rule out winding back the “final offer” arbitration process in comments in October.