Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 23
In some relief for Australia that was pushing for a law mandating internet giants to pay for news content on their platforms, Facebook on Tuesday said it would restore the past practice of letting users post news links on its pages.
Pact Down Under
- Australia is learnt to have agreed on four amendments to a law opposed by FB
- FB, Google can avoid being immediately subjected to payments for hosting news
- With the deal, US firms have bought time to strike pacts with media firms for hosting news
Facebook attributed the development to a deal it “struck with the Australian government” amid reports that the country had agreed on four amendments to the previous law, which had led Facebook to retaliate.
Last week, Facebook had blocked users and news publishers from posting news links on its pages — a move that hit the pages of even Australian emergency services.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the deal today whereby Facebook and Google could avoid being immediately subjected to payments for hosting news on their platforms while they struck commercial deals with Australian news firms on patterns of sharing revenues generated from news.
Facebook today said it had reached an agreement with the Australian government, which would allow it to back news publishers the digital company chose to back.
With the deal, the US digital firms have bought time to strike commercial agreements with news companies rather than have to mandatorily pay for hosting news.
Facebook expressed satisfaction at Australia having agreed to amendments to the controversial News Media Bargaining Code bill and said its concerns had been addressed about allowing commercial deals that recognized the value the digital platform provided to news publishers relative to the value the platform received from them.
While details of amendments to the proposed Australian bill (the Parliament there is expected to pass this week) would emerge over the coming days, Australia has set the ball rolling for other countries to consider ways in which the future of revenue generation from news would be governed.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently discussed his country’s proposed law with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The UK and Canada are said to be mulling similar provisions.
In Australia, the bill goes back to last year when the country’s competition commission proposed a draft law making Google and Facebook pay for news content hosted on their search engines and pages.
The bill was later tabled in Australia’s Parliament with Facebook last week retaliating with a ban on Australian users from posting news links on its pages. The Australian law is widely seen as rooted in the ongoing news revenue war between the American internet giants and Australian media moghul Rupert Murdoch.