Image: Brett Jordan via Unsplash
Following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s last-minute changes to the proposed media bargaining code that is before Parliament, Facebook has announced an agreement has been reached that will see the social media giant restore news pages in the country just days after restricting them. The decision comes following negotiations between Facebook and the Australian government, which was set to pass a media law that would require digital platforms to pay for news.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg finalized the agreement on Tuesday morning, according to government and industry sources.
“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week,” Facebook said in an updated statement.
“We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers. After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them. As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days.”
Part of the changes put forth by the Australian government includes a two-month mediation period to give digital platforms and publishers time to broker deals before entering arbitration as a last resort. For Facebook, the arbitration clause in the media bargaining code was a primary point of contention.
Under the amendments to the code, the Australian government said it will take into account previous commercial agreements that digital platforms like Google and Facebook have made with local news media businesses.
When the ban was first announced by last week, Campbell Brown, VP, Global News and Partnerships at Facebook wrote in a blog post: “Today we made an incredibly difficult decision to restrict the availability of news on Facebook in Australia. For the last three years, Facebook has worked closely with the Australian government on regulation that would help better define the relationships between technology companies and news organizations. Regulatory environments conducive to strong collaboration allow us to build innovative and sustainable ways to support journalism for the long term.”
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