News Corp strikes Facebook pay deal for Australian news

News Corp and Sky News reach pay deal with Facebook, weeks after media bargaining code became law

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp on Tuesday announced a three-year content deal with Facebook in Australia, weeks after Canberra introduced laws forcing digital platforms to pay for news.

Facebook lifted its Australian news ban after the company was able to negotiation last minute alterations to the news media bargaining code, which would have compelled it to pay publishers for displaying content or face mandatory arbitration.

"This week, News Corp chief executive Robert Thompson said: "[The deal is a] landmark in transforming the terms of trade for journalism.

The deal follows an agreement reached in 2019 in which News Corp U.S. publications receive payment for access to stories through Facebook News.

Last month, News Corp. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google reached a three-year deal in which the search giant will also pay for news.

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which drew up the new laws, told Reuters: 'I've always had the view we need to see this playing out.

"If they've done a deal with News Corp, they're obviously in the groove of doing deals with others".

However, the tech giant later lifted the news blackout and agreed to negotiate paid arrangements with the Australian media leading PM Morrison's government to soften rules.

Laws requiring Facebook and Google to pay for news came into effect in Australia this month. Pic Chesnot  Getty Images
Laws requiring Facebook and Google to pay for news came into effect in Australia this month. Pic Chesnot Getty Images

News Corp Australia is the owner of this publication.

This means that the media bargaining code, which threatens tech titans with arbitration if they don't strike deals with publishers, will likely not apply to either Facebook or Google for now.

"We are committed to bringing Facebook News to Australia", Andrew Hunter, Facebook's head of news partnerships for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement, highlighting the deals with News Corp and Sky News Australia. But so far, it has cemented agreements only with News Corp and Seven West Media, another major conservative news company.

"This digital denouement has been more than a decade in the making", he added.

Others said it further emphasized the inordinate power of social media companies to control news and public information.

The deal ostensibly marks the end of a hard and complicated negotiation between Google and Facebook, and the Australian competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Facebook reached a deal to restore news on its platform and got some changes to the legislation.

Sky News Australia, which comes under the News Corp umbrella, is also included in the package.

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