Facebook cuts deal with Australia, will restore news pages in the coming days


Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Facebook has reached an agreement with the Australian government and will restore news pages in the state days after being restricted.

The decision follows negotiations between the tech giant and the Australian government to pass a new media law that would make digital platforms pay for news.

“After further discussion, we are pleased that the Australian Government has approved a number of changes and warranties that address our core concerns about enabling commercial transactions that would increase the value of our platform to publishers relative to the value we receive from them. acknowledge, “Facebook said in an updated statement.

“Because of these changes, we can now work to expand our investment in journalism of public interest and restore news to Facebook for Australians in the coming days,” the company said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s administration made last-minute changes to the proposed news media negotiating code that is in parliament and is expected to be incorporated into law soon. The law was presented to Parliament last December.

What are the changes?

If the law is passed, digital platforms will pay local media and publishers to link their content in news feeds or search results.

As part of the amendments to the bill, the Australian government will consider trade agreements that digital platforms like Google and Facebook have already entered into with local news media companies before deciding whether the code will apply to the tech giants.

The government will also notify the digital platforms a month before the final decision.

It will also include a two month mediation period to allow digital platforms and publishers to broker business before entering into arbitration as a last resort.

The arbitration clause was one of the main reasons Facebook raised objections.

The bill states that if both sides are unable to reach a trade deal, the government-appointed arbitrators can decide the final price by deciding in favor of one party – the digital platform or the publisher – without that According to experts, there is scope for an agreement on funds.

Tuesday’s changes are intended to provide digital platforms and news organizations “further clarity” on how the negotiating code will be implemented, the government said.

It would also “provide further impetus for parties to trade negotiations” outside of the media negotiating code, the government added.

What happened before

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he contacted Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg as both parties were working to resolve issues surrounding the law.

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnership, said Tuesday that the Australian government had made it clear that the company could continue to decide whether news appear on its platform so it would not automatically be subject to foreclosure.

“We will continue to invest in news worldwide and oppose the efforts of media conglomerates to drive regulatory frameworks that ignore the real exchange of values ​​between publishers and platforms like Facebook,” said Brown.

– CNBC’s Will Koulouris contributed to this report.