Australian lawmakers push news law further after Facebook’s concessions

Australian lawmakers put forward a bill that would effectively force Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news content, clearing the last major hurdle to legislation that preceded government policies around the world Can be established.

The bill, amended and green-lighted by Australia’s Senate, will return to its House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass earlier this week.

Last week, lawmakers introduced amendments to the so-called Media Bargaining Code after Facebook sparked controversy over new laws prohibiting people from sharing and viewing news content on their popular social media platforms.

Facebook said on Tuesday that it would restore access to news in light of Australian users’ agreement with the government.

On Wednesday, Facebook also said it plans to spend at least $ 1 billion in the news industry over the next three years. Facebook followed Google’s pledge last October to pay publishers $ 1 billion over the next three years.

“We have invested $ 600 million since 2018 to support the news industry and at least $ 1 billion over the next three years,” said Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook. a blog Published on Wednesday.

“Facebook is willing to partner with news publishers,” Clegg said. “We fully recognize how journalism functions with an open heart – to inform and empower citizens and keep powerful in account.”

After the bill is passed by both houses, news businesses paid for search or content appearing on social media can sign up – provided they meet certain conditions, including $ 150,000 per year in revenue Includes earnings.

“What we have vowed to do is a level playing field,” Australian Treasurer Josh Friedenberg told Sky News on Wednesday. “We have sought to maintain public interest journalism in this country, and we have also sought to enhance and encourage those commercial deals between the parties.”

A major change is that Friedenberg will be given discretion to decide that either Facebook or Google need not be subject to the code if they “significantly contribute to the sustainability of the Australian news industry.”

Australia’s original law required tech giants to submit to forced arbitration if they could not enter into a commercial deal with Australian news companies for their content, effectively allowing the government to set a price could give.

Some critics worry that smaller publishers may cut from the deal, which is meant to address the power imbalance between social media giants and publishers when negotiating for payment for news content displayed on tech firms’ sites.

“Big players can successfully interact with Facebook or Google. The minister then did not nominate him, and all the younger players miss, “Independent Senator Rex Patrick, who plans to vote against the amended bill, told Reuters.

Friedenberg said he would give Facebook and Google time to enter into agreements with Australian media companies before deciding to implement their new powers.

After previously threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia, Google made several deals with several publishers, including one with Global News.

Leading television broadcaster and newspaper publisher Seven West Media said on Tuesday that it had signed a letter of intent to reach a content supply deal with Facebook within 60 days.

Rival Nine Entertainment Company revealed on Wednesday that it was in talks with Facebook.

“At this stage, we are still clearly moving forward with the negotiations,” Hugh Marks, the nine chief executive, told analysts at a company briefing on Wednesday. “It is really positive for our business and especially positive for the publishing business.”

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