Australian legal action against Meta moves closer

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 19 March 2024

The federal government has asked competition watchdog the ACCC to determine whether there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media companies and Meta in relation to its Facebook and Instagram services.

An ACCC spokesperson told AdNews that the competition regulator is not providing advice on whether to designate Meta under the News Media Bargaining Code as this is a matter for the federal treasurer.

The code, enshrined in legislation, can apply fines of up to 10% of annual turnover for failing to bargain with publishers in good faith

Meta has decided not renew its agreements to pay local publishers for their news appearing on Facebook. They can continue posting but they won’t get paid. 

In a blog post last week, Meta said that forcing technology companies into commercial relationships will not solve the long-term challenges facing public interest journalism or encourage the news industry to develop sustainable business models.

"We’ve been consistent in sharing that we don’t believe the News Media Bargaining Code framework fixes the long standing issues facing the news industry," Meta said.

The ACCC said Meta’s decision to remove the News Tab service in Australia from early April is concerning.

"The ACCC remains of the view that access to public interest journalism is essential for Australians," the ACCC spokesperson said.

"We have been requested to work with the relevant stakeholders and have commenced voluntary information gathering to inform our advice to the assistant treasurer."

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