News Corp inks Australia Facebook deal, signalling truce after blackout

Tanya Simon
March 16, 2021

Sky News Australia, meanwhile, reached a new agreement with Facebook that extends and "significantly builds" on an existing arrangement, the company said.

Facebook has signed a three-year deal that would give it permission to use content from News Corp properties in Australia.

The terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed in Tuesday's announcement.

News Corp publications in the United States entered an agreement in 2019 to receive payments in exchange for access to additional stories for Facebook News, with the company holding similar deals with Google and Apple.

The agreement covers newspapers such as The Australian, the Herald Sun and Australia's Daily Telegraph with a parallel agreement for Sky News Australia.

Facebook's one-week blackout in Australia last month sparked a storm of criticism, as the shutdown also affected not only news. but emergency services and public health pages.

"The agreement with Facebook is a milestone in shaping the journalism framework and will have a significant and significant impact on our Australian news business", said Robert Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of News Corp.

Andrew Hunter, Facebook's head of news partnerships Australia and New Zealand, said the social media company was "committed to bringing Facebook News to Australia".

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Under the amended code, Facebook and Google could avoid being subject to the new law at all - and therefore avoid the dreaded prospect of mandatory arbitration - if they struck deals with publishers.

This period has seen intense wrangling between a stubborn Australian government and tech platforms such as Google and Facebook.

Australia's News Media Bargaining Code requires digital platforms to agree pay deals with registered news publishers, with a government-appointed arbitrator deciding on the final price of content in the event that an agreement can't be reached.

But the company had already signed a number of separate agreements with News Corp and other Australian media giants such as Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own.

"This digital denouement has been more than a decade in the making", he added.

The deal ostensibly marks the end of a hard and complicated negotiation between Google and Facebook, and the Australian competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

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