Facebook to restore news in Australia after government talks

The announcement culminates a month of bitter dispute between the American technology firm and Canberra, which had been working on legislation that would force technology platforms to pay news publishers for content.

The agreement “will allow us to support publishers of our choice, including small and local publishers,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships, in a statement. He added that the company was “restoring news to Facebook in Australia in the coming days.”

In the past week, Facebook (full board) banned Australians from finding or sharing news on its service. The decision, which appeared to be the most restrictive measure the company has taken against content publishers, forced the pages of media organizations and even some essential unrelated services to be shut down.

Facebook has informed the government of its decision, according to Australian Communications Minister Paul Fletcher.

The announcement also came as the Australian Senate discussed the latest version of the media law, which was first introduced last summer.

The initial version of the legislation would have allowed the media to negotiate individually or collectively with Facebook and Google (GOOGL) – and enter into arbitration if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

On Tuesday, the Australian government said it would amend the code to include a provision that “must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through trade agreements with news media companies. “, among others. measurements.

“The government has clarified that we will retain the ability to decide whether the news appears on Facebook so that we are not automatically subjected to forced negotiation,” said Brown of Facebook. “It has always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we will continue to invest in news globally and resist efforts by media conglomerates to promote regulatory frameworks that do not take into account the true exchange of value between publishers. and platforms like Facebook “.

Meanwhile, Google had already been trying to get ahead of the new legislation by announcing partnerships with some of the largest media organizations in the country, including Rupert Murdoch’s. News Corp (NWS) and Seven West Media.
When asked about Google partnerships last week, Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg alluded to the changes that were finally announced Tuesday. He said that “if there are trade agreements, then the equation changes.”

– Kerry Flynn contributed to this report.


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