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Facebook to restore Australian news pages after tweaks to media laws

Canberra agrees to amend draft law that will force Big Tech to pay for journalism

Facebook | Australia | Social Media

Colin Packham & Byron Kaye | Reuters  |  Canberra 

The amendments include an additional two-month mediation period before the government-appointed arbitrator intervenes

said on Tuesday it will restore Australian news pages after negotiating changes with the government to a proposed law that forces tech giants to pay for media content displayed on their platforms.

and the group have been locked in a standoff for more than a week after the government introduced legislation that challenged and Alphabet Inc's Google's dominance in the news content market. last week blocked Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its popular platform, drawing criticism from publishers and the government. But after a series of talks between Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a concession deal has been struck.

"Facebook has refriended Australia, and Australian news will be restored to the Facebook platform," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. Frydenberg said had been a "proxy battle for the world" as other jurisdictions engage with tech over a range of issues around news and content.

While Big Tech and media outlets have battled over the right to news content in other jurisdictions, Australia's proposed laws are the most expansive and are seen as a possible template for other nations.

"Facebook and Google have not hidden the fact that they know that the eyes of the world are on Australia, and that's why they have sought I think to get a code here that is workable," Frydenberg said.

will offer four amendments, which include a change to the mandatory arbitration mechanism used when the tech giants cannot reach a deal with publishers over fair payment for displaying news content.

"Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation," Facebook Vice President of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown said in a statement online.

She said the company would continue to invest in news globally but also "resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook."

The amendments include an additional two-month mediation period before the government-appointed arbitrator intervenes, giving the parties more time to reach a private deal.

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First Published: Wed, February 24 2021. 02:07 IST