Facebook to restore news pages for Australian users in coming days

PUBLISHED: Tue, 23 Feb 2021 06:47:04 GMT
Saheli Roy Choudhury
CNBC
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Key Points
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has introduced last-minute changes to the proposed media bargaining code that is in Parliament and is expected to be voted into law soon.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 18: In this photo illustration reports on Facebook’s news ban on Australian and International content on February 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers an users in Australia from posting it sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing using content on their platforms. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Facebook has reached an agreement with the Australian government and will restore news pages in the country days after restricting them.

The decision follows negotiations between the tech giant and the Australian government, which is set to pass a new media law that will require digital platforms to pay for news.

“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,” Facebook said in an updated statement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has introduced last-minute changes to the proposed media bargaining code that is in Parliament and is expected to be voted into law soon.

Those changes include a two-month mediation period to allow digital platforms and publishers to broker deals before they are made to enter arbitration as a last resort.

The arbitration clause in the media bargaining code has been one of Facebook’s main points of objection.

It states that the arbitrator will rule either in favor of either party — the digital platform or the publisher — with no room for a middle-ground agreement, according to experts.

Under the amendments, the Australian government will take into account commercial agreements that digital platforms like Google and Facebook have already made with local news media businesses before deciding if the code applies to the tech giants.

The government will also give the digital platforms one month’s notice before reaching the final decision.

The amendments are expected to provide “further clarity” to digital platforms and news organizations on how the bargaining code will be implemented, the government said.

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— CNBC’s Will Koulouris contributed to this report.

This is a breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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