The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation to the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance to collectively negotiate the terms of engagement of freelance journalists with Fairfax Media, ACP Magazines, News Limited and Pacific Magazines.
The MEAA proposes to negotiate minimum rates of pay, freedom to contract with other media organisations, and other contractual terms such as copyright and moral rights.
"While the publishers have not supported the application, under the proposed authorisation they remain free to choose whether to negotiate with the MEAA or deal with journalists individually," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.
In addition, MEAA members may opt out of any collective agreement and negotiate individually with the publishers.
Not extend to boycotts
The proposed authorisation does not extend to a collective decision by freelance journalists to boycott a publisher if it refuses to take part in collective negotiations or for other reasons including a failure to reach a collective agreement.
The proposed authorisation simply removes the legal risk under the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 to the MEAA and participating members if they were to engage in collective negotiations with the publishers.