Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Media Law Talks with Facebook

In this photo illustration, the Facebook and Google logos are seen on a smartphone in front of an Australian flag.

Pavlo Gonchar | Images SOPA | LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg told CNBC that negotiations with Facebook on the country’s new media law were “quite lengthy and difficult.” but both parties finally managed to resolve their differences.

The Australian parliament last week passed the law requiring companies like Facebook and Google to pay the media and publishers to link their content in the news or in search results.

Before the passage of the law, Facebook, in retaliation against the proposed bill, prevented Australian users from viewing and sharing news content on its platform. The Australian government criticized the move, which Facebook later reversed after both parties reached an agreement.

“Well, there were challenging negotiations,” Frydenberg told CNBC’s Will Koulouris on Wednesday.

“Obviously, with Facebook, we are deeply disappointed in their actions to remove Australian news from their site … But from that point on, we spoke on the phone, resolved our differences and reached, I think, a mutually agreed position,” he He said.

Things are going in the right direction, although it has been a rather lengthy and difficult series of negotiations.

Josh Frydenberg

Australian Treasurer

The negotiations resulted in the Australian government making last-minute changes to the proposed law, officially known as the Digital Media and Platforms Mandatory Negotiation Code, before its approval.

“Facebook is now entering into good faith negotiations with Australian news media companies,” said Frydenberg. He cited the letter of intent signed by Seven West Media, owner of the Seven streaming network, to provide news content to Facebook.

“Things are going in the right direction, although this has been a rather lengthy and difficult series of negotiations,” said the Treasurer.

Facebook’s response to media code is often compared to Google’s reaction.

Google also forcefully rejected and threatened to withdraw its search function from the country, but eventually the company it relented and closed deals with various media outlets, including Seven West Media and News Corp, owned by the Murdoch family.

Frydenberg said there is “no question” that other countries were watching developments related to Australia’s new media law.

The passage of the law made Australia the first country where a government-appointed arbitrator can decide the final price that digital platforms have to pay news publishers, provided that a commercial agreement cannot be reached independently. .

Countries like France have taken some steps to make tech companies pay for news, while others like Canada and the UK are contemplating their next steps.

– CNBC’s Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.


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