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Facebook reaches deal with government, vows to restore news

  • February 23 2021
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Facebook reaches deal with government, vows to restore news

By Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
February 23 2021

Facebook intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed on Tuesday.

Facebook reaches deal with government, vows to restore news

Facebook reaches deal with government, vows to restore news

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  • February 23 2021
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Facebook intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed on Tuesday.

Facebook reaches deal with government, vows to restore news

Following a phone meeting with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday morning, the Treasurer confirmed the social media giant intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days.

Also on Tuesday, Facebook’s director for Australia and New Zealand, Willian Easton, confirmed an agreement had been reached. 

“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,” Mr Easton said. 

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“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.” 

In a separate statement, Mr Frydenberg said the government is due to announce further amendments to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

These amendments are said to provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the code is intended to operate.

Among other things, these amendments will make it clear that a decision to designate a platform under the code must take into account whether a digital platform has made a “significant contribution” to the “sustainability of the Australian news industry” through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses.

Moreover, a digital platform will be notified of the government’s intention to designate prior to any final decision — noting that a final decision on whether or not to designate a digital platform would be made no sooner than one month from the date of notification.  

The explanatory memorandum is also said to confirm that the code “only applies to the extent a digital platform is making covered news content available through those services”.

“These amendments also add further impetus for parties to engage in commercial negotiations outside the code — a central feature of the framework that the government is putting in place to foster more sustainable public-interest journalism in Australia,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Facebook moved to block the sharing and viewing of news content in the early hours of Thursday morning, after announcing that Australia’s proposed new media bargaining law misunderstands the platform’s relationship with publishers who use it to share news content.

“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia,” Mr Easton said at the time.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

Facebook reaches deal with government, vows to restore news
Facebook reaches deal with government, vows to restore news
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About the author

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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of nestegg and Smart Property Investment. Email Maja at [email protected]

About the author

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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of nestegg and Smart Property Investment. Email Maja at [email protected]

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