Facebook relents, switches news back on in Australia

This came just a day after Australian parliament passed a law forcing Facebook and Alphabet, Google's parent company to pay local media companies for content

UPDATED: Feb 26, 2021, 08.18 AM(IST)

Facebook ended one-week news blackout in Australia on Friday. The popular social media network also announced preliminary agreements with three small local publishers. This came just a day after Australian parliament passed a law forcing Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company to pay local media companies for content.

Australia has thus become first country in the world where a government arbitrator can set the price Facebook and Google pay domestic media to show their content if private negotiations fail. Canada and other countries have shown interest in replicating Australia`s reforms.

Facebook said it had signed partnership agreements with Schwartz Media, Solstice Media and Private Media. The trio own a mix of publications, including weekly newspapers, online magazines and specialist periodicals. Facebook hasn’t disclosed financial details of the agreements. The deals will become effective within 60 days if full deal is signed.

“These agreements will bring a new slate of premium journalism, including some previously paywalled content, to Facebook,” the social media company said in a statement.

The non-binding agreements allay some fears that small Australian publishers would be left out of revenue-sharing deals with Facebook and Google.

“It`s never been more important than it is now to have a plurality of voices in the Australian press,” said Schwartz Media Chief Executive Rebecca Costello.

Facebook on Tuesday struck a similar agreement with Seven West Media, which owns a free-to-air television network and the main metropolitan newspaper in the city of Perth.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp has said it was also in talks with Facebook.

Facebook and Google threatened for months to pull core services from Australia if the media laws took effect.

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While Google struck deals with several publishers including News Corp as the legislation made its way through parliament, Facebook took the more drastic step of blocking all news content in Australia.

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