News Corp strikes content deal with Facebook in Australia

·2-min read
Facebook last month blocked all news in Australia amid a heated dispute over new rules forcing digital platforms to pay for news

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp on Tuesday announced a three-year content deal with Facebook in Australia, weeks after Canberra introduced laws forcing digital platforms to pay for news.

Facebook last month blocked all news in the country amid a heated dispute over the legislation, causing outrage Down Under as non-media Facebook pages, including for emergency services, government health departments and charities, were caught up in the ban.

But the US tech giant later lifted the news blackout and agreed to negotiate paid arrangements with Australian media, leading the government to water down rules in the so-called News Media Bargaining Code.

The agreement will see News Corp's Australian media outlets provide content via Facebook's "News" service, similar to a deal the companies struck in the US in October 2019.

It will apply to dozens of newspapers across the country -- including The Australian, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph and Melbourne's Herald Sun -- while Sky News Australia has also reached a new, expanded agreement with Facebook.

No details were given about the value of the deal.

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said the outcome was "more than a decade in the making".

"The agreement with Facebook is a landmark in transforming the terms of trade for journalism, and will have a material and meaningful impact on our Australian news businesses," he said in a statement.

Andrew Hunter, Facebook's head of news partnerships Australia and New Zealand, confirmed the agreements and said the company was "committed to bringing Facebook News to Australia".

Facebook and Google, the two companies targeted by the regulation, had strongly objected to clauses requiring them to submit to mandatory arbitration over the amount they would have to pay local media to show Australian news on their platforms and search results.

Google negotiated multi-million dollar content licensing deals for its "Showcase" product with a host of Australian companies, and notably the country's two biggest news organisations: News Corp and Nine Entertainment.

Australia's government agreed to weaken the arbitration requirements if the tech giants reached deals with local media firms.

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