Facebook says Australia acted before an agreed deadline for a deal with publishers

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 20 April 2020

Facebook Australia says the federal government acted before a deadline for a deal with Australian publishers on using their content. 

The digital platform was due to submit the first draft of a voluntary code in May under agreed timeframes set by the government in December.

However, treasurer Josh Frydenberg says there's been "no meaningful progress" in talks between premium content publishers and the digital platforms on a voluntary code. 

The federal government, announcing an intevention in the process, says Australia will hold the digital giants to account and regulate payment for content.

And the competition watchdog, the ACCC, which ran an inquiry into digital platforms, says there is “no expectation of any (agreement) even being made”.

Publishers have seen their audience numbers surge during the COVID-19 crisis but at the same time the advertising market has shrunk as brands withdraw or rewrite campaigns.

“We’re disappointed by the government's announcement, especially as we’ve worked hard to meet their agreed deadline," says Will Easton, managing director, Facebook Australia and New Zealand. 

"COVID-19 has impacted every business and industry across the country, including publishers, which is why we announced a new, global investment to support news organisations at a time when advertising revenue is declining.

"We believe that strong innovation and more transparency around the distribution of news content is critical to building a sustainable news ecosystem.

"We’ve invested millions of dollars locally to support Australian publishers through content arrangements, partnerships and training for the industry and hope the code will protect the interests of millions of Australians and small businesses that use our services every day.”

Facebook already pays some publishers for content, through video revenue and other content deals.  

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