Facebook signs pay deals with 3 Australian news publishers

Facebook Google media advertising income blocking business

"We are excited to grow our existing partnership with Facebook; this new round of support will help fund independent journalism in Australia, as well as bring our reporting to new and diverse audiences on Facebook", says Private Media CEO Will Hayward".

Australia's laws forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news are ready to take effect, though the laws' architect said it will take time for the digital giants to strike media deals. And while the law may not be as tough as originally intended, it sets a model that other global regulators may seek to emulate as they continue efforts to curb the market power of Google and Facebook.

But it's not - many deals remain to be struck and we haven't seen how this plays out yet. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism.

Under the law, if a platform can't reach agreement with a news business, an arbitration panel can be appointed to set a legally binding price for journalism. 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.

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.

Australians woke last Thursday to find news pages on Facebook had been wiped blank.

News Corp. Australia executive chairman Michael Miller said last week that his company had pay negotiations with Facebook.

As an alternative, Clegg wrote that Facebook has chose to partner with news publishers to recognise quality journalism.

'News publishers and governments have worked together to fight for fair treatment. "That's why we've invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion more over the next three years".

"What they haven't done, though, is pay for content, and that's what we've been trying to get them to do", he said.

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He said the firm was already working with publishers in the United Kingdom to pay for content in its Facebook News product, which personalizes news for its readers' individual tastes.

Under the final version of the bill, the law may not be applied to Facebook or Google if they already have deals to pay news publishers for their content in place.

Both Facebook and the Australian government have spoken of the need to preserve and promote smaller journalistic organizations, without detailing concrete steps.

"Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers", Clegg said after Facebook restored news links as part of a compromise with Australian officials. But Facebook could again block Australian news if negotiations broke down.

"The changes the government's done are things that either don't matter much or are just to clarify things that, at least in Facebook's mind, were unclear", Sims told the Reuters news agency.

"It goes into the larger pool of News Corp.", she said.

WATCH | Facebook and Australia are in a standoff.

In recent weeks, Facebook also responded to the legislation by blocking the sharing of news on Facebook and Instagram in Australia.

Guilbeault, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday, has promised a "made-in-Canada" approach.

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