Australia’s Challenge to Google, Facebook Draws Bipartisan Political Support

Matt Jelonek via Getty Images

Matt Jelonek via Getty Images

By comparison, Easton said that in 2020, Facebook generated around 5.1 billion referrals for free for Australian publishers.

Under the three-year agreement, News Corp. said it will receive payment when stories from its publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Barron's, MarketWatch, New York Post, the Times of London, the Sun tabloid in London and dozens of papers in Australia, are featured in the Google News Showcase. The deal includes the development of audio journalism and "meaningful investments in innovative video journalism by YouTube", according to News Corp.

Mr Easton said Facebook and other USA technology businesses like Google have "fundamentally different relationships with news".

The announcement was made in a blog post by Facebook Australia and New Zealand's managing director, William Easton.

Both Google and Facebook have threatened to quit the Australian market if the law is passed.

"We have been negotiating with Facebook in good faith and we remain willing to do a deal with them that provides a mutually beneficial outcome and ensures quality information is available to all Australians on their platform".

The government said it was continuing to talk with Facebook, and founder Mark Zuckerberg has already spoken to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this morning.

Australian politicians are considering forcing digital businesses to reach paid-for-news agreements with media companies with draft legislation that could create a so-called News Media Bargaining Code.

Facebook defended the move in a lengthy statement.

Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Facebook locally, asking whether satire news site content will continue to be banned on its platform in the future.

Google has reportedly struck a $30 million deal with Australian broadcaster Nine Entertainment amid growing political pressure to rebalance the relationship between tech platforms and legacy media outlets.

Australia's Seven West Media Ltd became the country's first major news outlet to strike a licensing deal with Google, as the government pushes ahead with a law that would force the internet giant to pay media companies for content. The company disclosed that just 4% of the content in Australian users' feeds was news, though the platform did not break out other engagement metrics tied to news consumption.

Mr Easton claimed the proposed legislation seeks to "penalise" Facebook for "content it didn't take or ask for".

As Canada prepares sweeping new regulations for online content, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is in regular contact with the handful of governments already headed in that direction - some of them dealing with fierce blowback from Facebook and Google.

"The signs are that the Australian government and Google are close to a compromise", said Paul Budde, an independent media and telecommunications industry analyst. News Corp. said the payments would be "significant". Other countries have been looking at what is happening in Australia. "On the other hand, publishers willingly choose to post news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences and increase advertising revenue".

"Panels on News Showcase display an enhanced view of an article or articles, giving participating publishers more ways to bring important news to readers and explain it in their own voice, along with more direct control of presentation and branding". It's entered into commercial deals with media companies in the United Kingdom, for example.

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