August 6, 2021

Australia | Rupert Murdoch’s press group signs deal with Facebook

(Sydney) Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp group said on Tuesday it had reached a three-year news content deal with Facebook in Australia, after Canberra passed a law forcing tech giants to pay the media.

Facebook in February blocked access to news content for its Australian users in response to a bill that aimed to regulate relations between traditional media and large tech companies.

This measure had provoked outrage in Australia because Facebook pages of relief services, health organizations or charities had been unintentionally affected by the blockage.

Facebook then lifted its block and agreed to negotiate financial arrangements with the Australian media, which led the Australian government to relax its legislation in this area.

Under the agreement announced on Tuesday, Australian media owned by News Corp will provide news content through Facebook’s News service.

The deal will apply to dozens of media outlets in Australia, including the national daily The Australian, the Daily Telegraph of Sydney and the Herald Sun from Melbourne. Sky News Australia television also signed a new deal with Facebook.

Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, said in a statement that the group’s deal with Facebook was “a milestone” and would “have a significant impact on our Australian newspaper businesses.”

Andrew Hunter, Facebook’s head of media partnerships in Australia and New Zealand, confirmed the deal and said the group was “committed to bringing Facebook News to Australia.”

Facebook and Google, the two US tech giants targeted by Australian law, had strongly objected to clauses requiring them to submit to arbitration over how much money they should pay local media outlets to present information. Australian women on their platforms and in their search results.

Google has negotiated multi-million dollar licensing deals for its Showcase product with a range of Australian media companies, including Australia’s two largest groups, News Corp and Nine Entertainment.

The Australian government had agreed to soften the legal arbitration conditions if the tech giants made deals with local news companies.