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Facebook Re-Friended: Reverse News Ban In Australia

F
acebook has announced that they will restore news articles on their platform, after reaching an agreement with the federal government.

The ban began last week, in response to Australia’s mandatory bargaining code, which required tech giants to compensate news publishers.

The announcement is positive news for media and news outlets, notably sports media sites that obtained significant traffic from Facebook.

Major sports media pages were forced to share content and updates via alternative mediums including Twitter, LinkedIn, and email.

Managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, William Easton, said in a statement they are pleased to be moving forward.

“We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers,” Easton said.

“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,” he said.

The Australian government has agreed to amend its media bargaining code.

“The amendments will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms,” the government said in a statement.

Australia’s competition watchdog has maintained that for every $100 spent on online advertising, Google captures $53, Facebook takes $28 and the rest is shared among others, depriving media outlets of needed revenue to support journalism.

The government spent $42 million on digital advertising in 2019-20. The ACCC has reported around one quarter of all online advertising expenditure in Australia goes to Facebook, indicating the move may cost Facebook millions could also been a motivating factor.

Local sport organisations can now reinstate it’s regional and smaller club teams or individuals that rely on sending news and feeds for their players and sponsors in each FB community, can expect to be “restored within days” from The Australian Treasurer.

In a news conference this afternoon, Treasurer Josh Frydenburg elaborated on the government’s discussions with Facebook.

“It’s been a difficult process but these are important issues … because the purpose of the code has been designed to sustain public interest journalism in this country,” Frydenberg said.

“Facebook has committed to entering into good faith negotiations with Australian news media businesses and seeking to reach agreements to pay for content,” he said.

Frydenberg also confirmed that Facebook will restore news pages within the coming days.