Facebook resumes news in Australia; Signs content deals with 3 publishers

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The American technology giant Facebook has ended its one-week blackout of Australian news on its popular social media site and announced initial commercial agreements with three local publishers.

The move is following the easing of tensions between the US-based social media giant and the Australian government, a day after the country’s parliament passed a law mandating Facebook and Google to pay local media companies for using content on their platforms.

With the approval of the new law, Australia becomes the first nation where a government arbitrator can fix the price Facebook and Google have to pay domestic media to show their content if private negotiations fail. In light of the new legal reforms, Canada and other countries have shown interest in following Australia’s path.

Last day, Facebook revealed that it had signed partnership agreements with Australia’s three media companies namely, Schwartz Media, Solstice Media and Private Media. The trio owns a mix of publications, including weekly newspapers, online magazines and specialist periodicals.

However, Facebook did not disclose the financial details of the agreements, which will become effective within 60 days if the deal is completed successfully. “These agreements will bring a new slate of premium journalism, including some previously paywalled content, to Facebook,” the social media company said in a statement.

The non-binding agreements will ease some fears that small Australian publishers had that they would be left out of revenue-sharing deals with Facebook and Google.

Earlier this week, Facebook had entered into a similar agreement with Seven West Media, which owns a free-to-air television network and the main metropolitan newspaper in the city of Perth. Meanwhile, the Australian Broadcasting Corp has stated it was also in discussions with Facebook.

Facebook and Google threatened for months to pull core services from Australia if the media laws took effect. While Google struck deals with several publishers including News Corp, Facebook took the more extreme step of blocking all news content in Australia.

That stance by Facebook led to amendments to the laws, including giving the government the power to exempt Facebook or Google from mandatory arbitration.

Also Read: Australia to go ahead with paid news law despite Facebook block