Australian news will be restored to Facebook in the coming days said Josh Frydenberg after negotiation with Mark Zuckerberg. Since 10:30 pm of Perth time, all Australian News and media are again back on Facebook.
Facebook has committed to entering into good faith negotiations with Australian news media businesses to reach agreements to pay for content.
Facebook will restore news to Australian pages in the next few days after the government agreed to change its landmark media bargaining code that would force the social network and Google to pay for displaying news content.
Last week, Facebook blocked all news on its platform in Australia, and inadvertently blocked information and government pages, including health and emergency services.
The ban on a news created shockwaves, with the action viewed as a direct message to the rest of the world against embarking on similar regulation of the technology giant.
The historic banning of news on Australian pages came during escalating tensions over legislation that would force the tech giants to negotiate a fair payment with news publishers for using their content.
Australian News Media Back again on Facebook
Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and communications minister Paul Fletcher announced on Tuesday a compromise had been reached at the 11th hour as the legislation was being debated in the Senate.
The Australian government said under the changes:
The changes mean the government may not apply the code to Facebook if the company can demonstrate it has signed enough deals with media outlets to pay them for content. The government has also agreed that Facebook and other platforms which would be subject to the code would be given a month’s notice to comply.
Facebook’s Australian managing director, Will Easton, confirmed news would be restored in Facebook newsfeeds in Australia “in the coming days” following the agreement with the government over changing the code.
“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with treasurer Frydenberg and minister Fletcher over the past week,” he said in a blog post.
“After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.”
If the government were to later decide to apply the code to Facebook, the company’s global VP for partnerships, Campbell Brown, on Tuesday indicated the company could pull news from Australia again.
“Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.”
News publishers would not expect to get similar deals under the changes, meaning smaller publishers could get more per article, without larger publishers being able to trigger non-differentiation clauses in the legislation to demand a better deal.
“Importantly, the amendments will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms,” Frydenberg said.
Frydenberg said Facebook was pretty well advanced in negotiating deals with a number of media companies. He said Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had told him the company had now re-engaged in negotiations with media outlets.
Australia had been a proxy battle for the rest of the world on the regulation of Google and Facebook, said Frydenberg.
I have no doubt that so many other countries are looking at what is happening here in Australia, because of this innovative code the Morrison government is now pursuing, so Facebook and Google have not hidden the fact that they know that the eyes of the world are on Australia, and that is why they have sought to get a code here that is workable, said Josh Frydenberg.
Australia’s biggest locally-owned media company, Nine Entertainment, welcomed the amendments and said it looked forward to resuming talks with Facebook about a commercial arrangement.
We are pleased the government has found a compromise on the digital code legislation to move Facebook back into the negotiations with Australian media organisations, a Nine spokesman said.
Nine had rejected all of Facebook’s offers because they were voided if the media code became law.
Australian Parliament passes News Media and Digital platforms mandatory Bargaining Code
Parliament has today passed the Morrison Government’s world-leading News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code that addresses the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and digital platforms.
The Code was developed after extensive analysis from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), including almost three years of public consultation.
The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia.
The Code provides a framework for good faith negotiations between the parties and a fair and balanced arbitration process to resolve outstanding disputes.
Importantly, the code encourages parties to undertake commercial negotiations outside the Code and the Government is pleased to see progress by both Google and more recently Facebook in reaching commercial arrangements with Australian news media businesses.
The Code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament. Our commitment to legislating the Code reflects the importance of a diverse and well-resourced news media sector to our democracy and the Australian people.
The Government would like to thank all stakeholders for their contribution throughout this process, particularly the ACCC for its ground-breaking research which led to the drafting of the Code.
The Code will be reviewed by Treasury within one year of its commencement to ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the Government’s policy intent.
Australian News Media Back again on Facebook