In recent years, researchers have explored how digital platforms influence the production and distribution of journalism (Bell and Owen2017; Nielsen and Ganter 2018). Some have suggested that news outlets may become dependent on platforms (Caplan and boyd 2018), whereas others have been concerned about the role of algorithms in curating content (Tandoc Jr et al. 2020). At the same time, policymakers and governments have started to develop a regulatory response to platform power (Moore and Tambini 2018), with some of the earliest policy interventions focusing on the market power of platforms vis–á–vis the news industry (Flew and Wilding 2021). A key example is the Australian News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code (Bargaining Code hereafter), a reform which emerged from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) wider inquiry into digital platforms. The legislation has forced Google and Facebook to establish commercial deals with a variety of news organisations and in doing so, effectively pay for the use of Australian news content.

There can be no doubt that digital platforms are becoming increasingly powerful policy actors. However, there is a tendency in the literature to focus on platforms and emphasise their power at the expense of other important actors (Moore and Tambini 2018; Atal 2020). In this chapter, we take a different approach, and argue that the residual institutional power of government, the news media and policymakers played a critical role throughout this reform process. Our aim is not to downplay the ability of platforms to influence policy processes, a skill that was on display throughout. Instead, we aim to shed light on various contributions from local actors, which went on to influence the development of the Bargaining Code. This allows us to offer a more nuanced account of platform power, one that contextualises the actions of platforms with reference to the residual institutional power of government, the news media (in particular, major media companies) and policymakers.

We begin our analysis by suggesting that in the context of journalism, the focus on platform power emerged from a period in the Anglophone news industry when publishers poured resources into distributing content on social media with the goal of building large audiences. The focus on platforms in scholarship as well as public conversations about news business models therefore often reflect this ‘golden era’ of platform distribution when many news outlets found success through social media (Bell and Owen 2017; Hurcombe et al. 2021). However, the end of that era offers an opportunity to revaluate this focus on platforms and examine the enduring power of local institutional actors (Meese and Hurcombe 2021). We go on to provide a case study of the negotiations around the Bargaining Code and its subsequent implementation. Here we highlight the involvement of four key institutions: publishers, platforms, the ACCC and the Australian Government. We show how long-standing institutional relationships between sections of the media and government and the ‘regulatory activism’ of the ACCC (Flew et al., 2021) influenced the final form of the bargaining code. We end with some concluding thoughts on the outlook for news-related platform regulation.

Putting Platform Power in Perspective: An Institutional Approach

The Reuters Digital News Report reveals that social media has become a key source of news content across the world, especially among younger demographics (Newman et al., 2020). Australia generally follows these trends and while people prefer to access news by watching television (63%) and online news (53%), social media (52%) is close behind (Newman et al. 2020; p. 96). These media are ranked in the same order when people are asked to identify their main source of news. There are demographic differences, however, with the Australian Generation Z cohort overwhelmingly preferring to access news through social media (48%) than any other source. While the report does not address the role of search, it does note that 23% of people across the world used the Google News service in the last week (Newman et al. 2020 ; p. 12).

Several scholars have argued that platforms transform the operations of organisations which use them, seeing them align with the social and economic objectives of social media corporations (Van Dijck and Poell 2013). The growing importance of platforms as gatekeepers to news has led scholars to suggest that they also play a structuring role in relation to news outlets and the content they produce (Caplan and boyd 2018). As we see later on in our case study analysis, policymakers and regulators have embraced this account of the relationship between these two institutions and have been particularly concerned with two aspects of platform power.

The first is the organising power of algorithms in relation to news (Napoli 2015). Algorithms determine the visibility of certain content in social media news feeds (Bucher 2012) and the placement and ranking of news content within Google searches (Meese and Hurcombe 2021). Their internal workings are opaque, and notice is not given when adjustments are made. As a result, news organisations have had to scramble to alter distribution strategies in the wake of unannounced changes: an infamous example being a 2018 adjustment to the Facebook NewsFeed algorithm that devalued content from Public Pages in favour of posts from ‘friends and family’ (Wong 2018).Footnote 1 The second concern is around platform revenue streams. While news organisations get audiences from platforms, they have found it difficult to monetise social media traffic (Cornia et al. 2018). Page views can be appealing to advertisers, but even then, the cost of distributing news on platforms can be substantial (Myllylahti 2019). Revenue that normally would have flowed to news organisations has also been absorbed in other ways. Platforms dominate the online advertising market: in Australia, Google, Facebook, and YouTube received an 80 per cent share of the digital advertising market in 2020 (Meade 2020). News companies have not been able to compete with the programmatic advertising that Google and Facebook provide, losing a critical revenue stream (Pickard 2020).

More recent research has provided some nuance to these arguments. Not every news outlet is reliant on the whims of platform algorithms (Sehl et al. 2021), and many media companies are now deploying subscription-based business models, causing these same companies to devalue traffic from social platforms (Meese and Hurcombe 2021). Despite these developments, reforms regarding the economics of journalism continue to focus on platforms. At a global level this attention has come about because of the recent “techlash” (Smith 2018), which has seen growing negative public sentiment towards big tech companies and an increased willingness from states to regulate platforms. Our following case study of the Australian policymaking process shows how various institutions ensured that these global discussions were successfully translated to local contexts.

Our argument draws on the framework of “historical institutionalism” (Bannerman and Haggart 2015), one approach within the broader set of “new institutionalist” approaches (March and Olsen 2006). Historical institutionalisation is distinguished by its emphasis on “path dependence”, which states that “future institutional change… is constrained by the present institutional context” (Bannerman and Haggart 2015; p. 5). In other words, historical context matters: not only does this context shape how new entrants are received, but “different countries… can develop dramatically different institutional responses” to similar phenomena (Bannerman and Haggart 2015 ; p. 5). The framework also situates institutions as central intellectual intermediaries, who not only mediate ideas circulating across society but also deploy their own ideas “as tools” in pursuit of “their own interests” (Bannerman and Haggart 2015 ; p. 7). Institutions can also become agents when they engage in lobbying practices and are seeking to enact change. In addition, historical institutionalism focuses on the “critical juncture” (Bannerman and Haggart 2015 ; p. 8), a moment where institutions (and associated path dependencies) can be strengthened or weakened. This chapter does not deploy historical institutionalism in a formalist manner focusing on the progress of one institution.Footnote 2 Instead we use it as a looser interpretive framework that allows us to account for historical path dependencies across various institutions.

The Bargaining Code

It is worth briefly explaining the code before discussing how specific institutions engaged in the negotiation process.Footnote 3 The reform forces certain platforms to pay for the use of Australian news content. In theory, the Treasurer should specifically identify which organisations fall under the auspices of this code. Any decision is informed by “whether there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news businesses” (52E(3) (a)) and the platform and whether the platform “has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through agreements relating to news content of Australian news businesses” (52E(3) (b)).

However, the latter provision has allowed platforms to avoid designation under the code, so long as they establish enough commercial licensing deals with publishers. What is sufficient has never been publicly stated, so designation is a constant threat. At time of writing, Google has made 16 deals and Facebook has made 10 deals, covering a variety of large and small, metropolitan, and regional publishers. This means that the broad goal of the Code has largely been achieved, even though the accompanying legislation is technically not operative. Platforms are happy to license news content to avoid designation. This is because designation allows any publisher to open negotiations with them (not just the ones they choose) and exposes the platform to a strict bargaining process.

If the Treasurer does decide to designate a platform, the company is required to negotiate with registered news businesses for the use of content across their services. News organisations can only be registered if their “primary purpose” (1.13 EM, 11) involves producing core news content - that is, news that covers “issues and events of public significance”, engages “Australians in public debate” or informs “democratic decision-making” (1.70 EM, 20). However, news organizations can receive payment for a wider category of news content that includes things like sports and entertainment reporting. If the parties cannot agree on a deal, the parties enter mediation before the matter is moved to an arbitration panel. Here, the two parties will submit their final offers and a panel constituted by Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) make a final binding determination. The panel will have to consider two sources of value: the value that platforms receive from having news on their site and the value that news outlets get from platform referrals.

The Australian Context

Some national context also provides some useful background to the code negotiations. Australia’s media ecology has historically been dominated by a small number of companies. For the past few decades, two conglomerates—Fairfax Media (now absorbed by Nine Entertainment) and News Corp—have owned the majority of daily print circulation in cities and the regions. Broadcasting has been similarly concentrated, with a small number of companies (Nine, Seven, the CBS-owned Ten) operating major television networks alongside public broadcasters (ABC and SBS). While streaming services have disrupted this media concentration, Australian platforms such as the Nine-owned Stan remain successful competitors to U.S. platforms like Netflix. A few born-digital outlets have appeared recently (Hurcombe et al. 2021), but the same print and broadcasting companies remain dominant in online news. Some of these newer outlets are also owned by the same media conglomerates, like youth-oriented Pedestrian (owned by Nine Entertainment). There are complex reasons for this concentration but demographics is a major one. Australia’s small number of medium-sized coastal urban centres only need one or two dedicated newspapers, which makes ownership across cities economically feasible for media businesses (Cunningham 2010).

This concentration has meant that a close relationship has developed between media conglomerates and government. This includes personal relationships between media identities and politicians. For example, it is customary for Prime Ministers and senior politicians to personally meet with Rupert Murdoch whenever they visit the USa “tradition” that has been likened to “pay[ing] court” (Tingle 2019). Nine also has close relationships with Australia’s major political parties: In 2019, it was criticised for hosting a Liberal Party fundraiser, attended by the Prime Minister and the communications minister (Blackiston 2019). The historically relatively small number of mastheads, broadcast channels, and companies producing news in Australia has meant that a familiarity has emerged between these media players and government (Chubb et al. 2018). We discuss these relationships in more detail below.

Institutions, Dependencies and Outcomes

Four institutions were actively involved throughout the Bargaining Code debate: the Australian news media industry (publishers), the ACCC (regulators), Google and Facebook (platforms) and the centre-right Coalition government. While we identify these institutions as key actors in our analysis, at points we also explore how different sectors within these institutions engaged in the debate. This is particularly relevant in our consideration of publishers, as small and large publishers engaged in the debate in different ways. Civil society groups chose to join the debate just prior to the reform entering Parliament and largely sided with publishers. As such, while they played an important advocacy role, other institutional actors already firmly established themselves earlier on in the policy debate (Flew et al., 2021). For the most part, platforms and publishers made submissions to the ACCC and argued their case in the public domain. The ACCC facilitated the reform process and made recommendations but also entered the public domain at times, strongly defending their findings. The government made it clear that they were in favour of platform regulation, intervening at critical times to ensure that this outcome was achieved. Their stance aligned with the goals of a media sector desperate for money after years of declining publishing revenue, but outraged platforms who were keen to avoid regulatory oversight.

If we return to the beginning of the policy process, we start to see evidence of the path dependencies that caused the interests of government and larger publishers to align. The code originally came about because of complex political horse-trading. Owners of Australian media organisations had long argued that historic restrictions on cross-media ownership were excessive, particularly in the context of a convergent media environment (Day 2007). Once the free market-friendly Coalition won government in 2015, the commercial media finally had access to a sympathetic ear and the limits were subsequently weakened - although it had to do a deal with a minor party to pass the legislation in 2017. As part of the deal, the government agreed to launch an inquiry into digital platforms. The terms of reference were broad with the inquiry examining everything from the market power of platforms to consumer privacy, but from the beginning, the relationship between platforms and publishers was a central focus (Flew and Wilding 2021; Meese 2021). This was a boon for Australian news outlets who had been worried about the growth of Facebook and Google for some time.

The ownership reforms showed clear evidence of philosophical alignment between sections of the Australian commercial media and the Coalition government. This came as no surprise as there were long-standing relationships between these two actors. Leading press executives even presented at critical meetings during the 1940s, which led to the formation of the party as a viable counterweight to the centre-left Labor party (Griffen-Foley 2002). Returning to the present, both institutions also believed that the media environment was changing significantly enough that certain regulations surrounding the operations of media companies could be weakened. The interests of these two parties once again intertwined around the Digital Platforms Inquiry. These arrangements were not conspiratorial. Instead, these institutions reached aligned positions based on their own internal path dependencies, which can produce long-standing cross-institutional arrangements.


While we listed some of the dominant scholarly and policy concerns at the beginning of the chapter, publishers had a narrower focus. Major Australian news media companies attempted to focus regulatory attention on the loss of their digital advertising revenue and concentration of ownership across the advertising supply chain (Nine 2018; News Corp Australia 2018; Meese forthcoming). They were also concerned that platforms were preferencing content that was not paywalled, taking news snippets to improve their own services, and complained that platforms had a much lighter regulatory burden (Flew et al. 2021). While many of these criticisms were sound, the limited focus pointed to existing path dependencies within journalism. The institution has long been reliant on advertising for revenue and this focus did not change when media companies transitioned to an online environment (Pickard 2020). As a result, these larger news companies focused on Google and Facebook’s capture of the digital advertising market. A smaller coterie of social news publishers (Hurcombe et al. 2021) offered a more nuanced account of their relationships with platforms (oOh! Media 2018). While these parties also called for an equitable regulatory balance between the two sectors, many had ambivalent feelings about the role that platforms played as a whole (Meese and Hurcombe 2021). These newer outlets had achieved success because of social media, and were aware that they would continue to rely on Facebook and Google continuing to play a critical role in news distribution.

As we can see, bigger publishers had relatively general concerns, and at this point, licensing was not front of mind for stakeholders. Indeed, the issue of platform payments only came about relatively late in the bargaining process, raised during a stakeholder meeting about the future of journalism in early 2019 (ACCC 2019b). All participants were conscious that the Cairncross Review in the United Kingdom had proposed a code of conduct to support bargaining between platforms and publishers (Flew and Wilding 2021; Meese 2021). But while the meeting was lukewarm about the proposal, the ACCC took up the idea enthusiastically— and once the final report was released in late 2019, the recommendation was quickly taken up by the Government.

When the Bargaining Code was finally on the road to becoming legislation, the split between small and larger publishers became clearer. The code was initially meant to be voluntary, and platforms and some small publishers were close to reaching agreement on commercial terms. However, it took a rumoured breakdown in negotiations with News Corp and the financial impact of COVID-19 for the government to intervene and make the proposed voluntary code mandatory (Rigby 2020). When the mandatory code was released, larger companies News Corporation and Nine were broadly supportive (Samios 2020). On the other hand, a group of small digital publishers criticised the draft Bargaining Code, concerned that it would be biased towards larger media players (Blackiston 2020).

The final code appears to have justified the small publishers’ concerns. Larger publishers have secured deals with Facebook and Google, reportedly worth millions of dollars (Elsworth 2021). Some small publishers have also met with success. Junkee (a social news outlet) and The Conversation have commercial deals with Google and Solstice Media has reached agreement with Google and Facebook.Footnote 4 However, other small outlets have not even been able to secure a meeting with the platforms. Instead, they have only been able to register with the ACMA in the faint hope that a platform is designated (ACMA n.d.). The lack of designation also appears to favour large publishers who are more likely to have the resources, networks, and skills to initiate and successfully complete these negotiations (Lee and Molitorisz 2021). We see further evidence of this divide across the news industry by exploring how the government and the ACCC acted during this critical juncture.


The Coalition government’s embrace of a mandatory Bargaining Code can partially be explained by the historical relationship between the Australian government and the tech sector. The Coalition has generally sought to regulate and control technology when it has been in power. They had already made notable interventions around copyright, passing a law in 2015 that blocked file-sharing sites (Dootson and Suzor 2015). This law was accused of bias towards local rights-holders (such as cable news service Foxtelof which News Corp owns a dominant share) over Australian consumers who, at the time, had limited legal access to popular overseas programmes. The party flirted with an innovation agenda in 2015 when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister (he had been an online entrepreneur in a previous life) and for a brief moment the government sought to align itself with the tech sector. However, the effort was quietly shelved after Scott Morrison replaced Turnbull as leader.

In contrast to this temperamental relationship with the tech sector, there has always been an “intimate relationship between politics and journalism” (Hess and Waller 2016), albeit one of “uneasy exchange and reliance” (Davis 2010). The presence of this “institutional dependency” (Fisher 2017) is a core tenet of journalism and political communication scholarship, and it is evident in Australia. Relationships between journalists from established publishers and politicians are institutionalised in the form of the Canberra Press Gallery, where “insider” knowledge is celebrated (Chubb et al. 2018). These engagements breed a certain institutional familiarity between politicians and journalists and, indeed, media owners, resulting in each party being partially invested in each other’s institutional durability (Clemens and Cook 1999). We have already noted some of the more overt interactions between politicians and media owners earlier in the chapter.

Conversely, born-digital outlets and smaller publishers have not always enjoyed similar treatment. The youth publisher Junkee operates without institutional access. This is partly a result of this publisher’s progressive editorial line, which is designed to appeal to young people alienated by parliamentary insiderism. But it is also an outcome of Junkee working outside the Canberra Press Gallery. Some digital outlets have been able to make the leap from outsider to insider: for instance, the born-digital BuzzFeed began to achieve institutional recognition and proximity to parliamentary power when it gained access to the Gallery in 2015. Yet even then, News Corp and the ABC continued to express prejudice for the outlet famous for “cat videos”. In 2017 News Corp editor Chris Dore criticised BuzzFeed’s inclusion on an advisory panel for the prestigious Walkley journalism awards (Meade 2017), and in 2018 ABC editorial director Alan Sutherland defended the new (and ultimately short-lived) youth-oriented outlet ABC Life by distancing it from BuzzFeed (Sunderland 2018). BuzzFeed Australia has stopped producing news, but Junkee’s outsider status remains.


As we have already noted, the inquiry came at an auspicious time with the “techlash” well underway and an international critical juncture forming around the question of platform regulation. The ACCC played an active role in shaping this debate. As the inquiry progressed the organisation was increasingly critical of the behaviour of digital platforms, and Rod Sims, the head of the Commission, made regular public comments regarding his concerns about platform business models. He advocated on behalf of the position developed by the ACCC’s digital platforms team and became a strong voice for reform (Butler 2020; Flew et al. 2021). This suggests that the ACCC and Rod Sims realised that a critical juncture was afoot.

Importantly, even though the ACCC was acting as an advocate for reform, they were only able to do so because they were embedded within existing institutional networks. The ACCC has been regarded as Australia’s “regulator of last resort” (Danckert 2019), underlining that the Commission is embedded in existing institutional arrangements and path dependencies. Their relationship with the press also adds some important nuance to their institutional position. While the ACCC does not have a symbiotic relationship with the press like politicians do, like any other government body it still has an ongoing institutional relationship with the press, and in particular, the legacy media.

This position necessarily influenced the constitution of the news media bargaining code. The obvious outcome of these existing institutional relationships was that platforms were on the outer. Yet, what was especially pertinent about these relationships was how the ACCC supported a relatively conservative vision of news. The Commission acknowledged the presence of emerging publishers in their reports. However, they also argued “it is unlikely that these newer sources of Australian journalism will compensate for reduced provision of local court and local government coverage by traditional print (now print/online) media businesses” (ACCC 2019a, 320). While this is an accurate analysis, the ACCC did not wait to see how these new forms of journalism developed: instead, it took advantage of the critical juncture to push through reforms that favoured established publishers. Considering the international political context this decision is understandable, but it also emphasised that the ACCC was worried about a particular type of news disappearing, one it was keen to rescue and conserve. The approach of newer publishers like Junkee did not match this vision, and while they were accounted for in the code and even secured deals, they were not the focus of the Commission’s concern.


The institutional position and behaviour of Google and Facebook platforms stands in stark opposition to the institutional relationships discussed above. Barring some minor concessions, the two platforms argued strongly against any form of regulation, disavowing their market power and strongly contesting claims that they were ‘a “must have” channel of distribution for news publishers’ (Facebook 2019, 5). They soon became sidelined throughout the inquiry as ACCC’s intention to regulate platforms became clearer. By the time the draft Bargaining Code appeared on the horizon, Google was publicly trading barbs with Rod Sims, who accused Google of spreading “misinformation” through their publicity campaign (Gillezeau 2020). This might seem like a natural outcome of a contestable policy process: yet, there are historical reasons for this failure, which reveal that platforms are still struggling to operate as transnational policy actors.

Platforms have established cultures that valorised the ability to “move fast and break things”, a path dependency that clearly informed Google and Facebook’s choice to argue against regulation (Gray 2020). Yet, we suggest that a more telling historical trajectory emerges when we explore how these two transnational companies engage with national debates. The problem with these companies is that they resemble unwieldy empires, with strong cores and weaker peripheries. Google and Facebook are unashamedly American companies and have focused on the political world of the United States since 2007. This can be seen in the amount of money that is poured into lobbying each year, ensuring that “the tech sector is increasingly embedded in politics and political campaigning” in the U.S. (Pawel 2018). Prior to the U.S. election Facebook specifically tweaked the NewsFeed algorithm in preparation (Lyons 2020), and Donald Trump was de-platformed following the U.S. Capitol riots. Platforms have started to pay more attention to Europe due to the jurisdiction’s ongoing interest in platform regulation (Satariano and Stevis-Gridneff 2020). By way of contrast, ongoing leaks from Facebook reveal that the company leadership is largely uninterested in the edges of its global empire, and that the company is surprisingly ill equipped when it comes to managing the complexities of local politics (Cushing 2021).

This haphazard interest translates to the politics of policy development. Outposts like Australia have not been entirely ignored: Google opened an Australian office in 2003, and Facebook followed in 2009. Upon opening these companies were predominantly focused on drumming up business to build revenue and hiring staff to support growth. Both Facebook and Google’s focused on getting Australian businesses to advertise on their platform, and the latter did not hire local in-house counsel until 2007 (Nickless 2007). However, their horizons gradually expanded, and Facebook and Google started to regularly lobby Australian governments on relevant issues (Flynn 2021). This saw platforms engage in public debates and work to influence local policy frameworks and they were largely successful in this task (Bodey 2012). With the “techlash” yet to arrive, platforms avoided comprehensive regulation of their services and as a result were able to policy resources in regions like Australia with some restraint.

However, technology companies had to intensify their efforts in an attempt to stave off the Bargaining Code. Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai held “a video conference call with Prime Minister Scott Morrison”, Facebook spoke to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (Greber 2020) and also hired “friends of Prime Minister Scott Morrison to lobby on its behalf” (Cheik-Hussein 2020; Mason 2020). Facebook’s vice-president of global public policy, Joel Kaplan, came to Australia but reportedly did not meet with the government (Morton 2019), however Mark Zuckerberg eventually managed to organise a meeting with Frydenberg and the Communications Minister (Sadler 2021). Platforms also engaged in more blunt negotiation tactics. Facebook removed Australian news (and other content) from its platforms for a brief period and Google experimented with removing Australian news content from search and later threatened to shut down their search product in Australia (Taylor 2021).

This frantic, last-minute lobbying secured some minor amendments to the code, the most critical being avoiding designation. However, both companies are still facing new financial burdens. We suggest that this outcome occurred because Facebook and Google are not institutionally connected to Australian political networks in the same way that they are in the United States. Even Facebook and Google’s threats to remove news from their platforms reflect a lack of internal leverage in Australia. Pawel Popiel (2018) has noted the close links between the Obama administration and Silicon Valley. These emerged from Obama’s successful 2008 campaign and continued throughout his administration with employees of technology companies assisting across a variety of policy areas. Conversely, while these companies have paid for lobbying in Australia and have capable policy teams they are not embedded within Australian political life. Governments of all persuasions have not worked closely with platforms, and platforms engage with Australian policy and politics on an ad-hoc basis. The result is that while platforms still have power to influence policy outcomes in these distant countries, they have to contend with still-powerful local institutions.

Media policy and platform power

Through applying historical institutionalism, we have decentred platforms within a conversation that typically centralises them. Rather than focusing on platform power, we have demonstrated that local and national networks of established institutional power are crucial explanatory factors for recent policy developments in Australia. We do not seek to valorise lobbying or under-the-table relationships that have done so much to harm the cause of publicly oriented media reform. Instead, we simply note two things. Firstly, all institutions survive because they are “reinforced through socialization or interaction or legitimation”, a process which ensures that “alternative scripts remain unimaginable” (Clemens and Cook 1999). While platforms are doing the necessary work to socialize their institutions in the United States and Europe (Satariano and Stevis-Gridneff 2020), their long-term efforts in Australia have been less intensive. This leaves space for other established actors. Secondly, even when platforms come to the policy table, they must engage with institutions who may have shared histories and their own sources of social and political power. Of course, platforms are still powerful actors, and they were able to secure a series of compromises to the code through blunt negotiation tactics. However, what our analysis highlights is the resilience of state-based institutions and other market actors, and their ability to align agendas in an attempt to counter platform power.

In closing, we note that questions remain about the Bargaining Code’s reforms. As we have discussed above, the Bargaining Code— both as policy and as policymaking processappears to favour older established media over smaller digital publishers. The policy also seems to preserve the status quo and does not look towards journalism’s future. In this sense, although the submissions from News Corp and Nine to the ACCC raised concerns about “journalism” and “information quality”, the ways in which both were discussed (as products of established media) suggests a bias towards institutional “legitimacy”. The measurement of “information quality” beyond legitimacy and institutional trust was not raised, and the limited role those smaller digital publishers played in the negotiations—some of which have been producing innovative and successful digital journalism (Hurcombe et al. 2021)—reflects this institutional bias. These developments in turn indicate the downsides of local institutional resilience and in doing so, provide lessons for other countries who plan to embark on similar reform efforts.