Tue 16 March 2021:
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp says a landmark three-year agreement with Facebook to pay for its Australian content will transform the terms of trade for journalism.
The move follows Australia’s recent historic move to approve a law that would force social media and tech giants to pay publishers for news on independently set terms unless they can agree their own deals directly.
Facebook has also reportedly made a confidential deal with Nine Entertainment, Australia’s biggest locally-owned media giant, but the parent company won’t confirm an agreement has been reached.
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the Nine negotiations.
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The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age reported its publisher, Nine, had signed a letter of intent to pay for content after weeks of tense negotiations. The company won’t confirm until a long-form agreement with Facebook is reached and the stock exchange is informed, a spokeswoman said.
News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said the deal would have a “material and meaningful impact” on its Australian business.
“Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch led a global debate while others in our industry were silent or supine as digital dysfunctionality threatened to turn journalism into a mendicant order,” Thomson said.
Facebook’s blocking of all media content in the country for a week last month angered world leaders, as the blackout included emergency services and government health pages. It ended the shutdown when Australia agreed to soften some parts of the new regulations.
Publishers have long complained that Facebook and Google are capturing a growing share of the online advertising market by selling ads on their platforms alongside articles that they get for free.
News Corp, which owns about two-thirds of Australian metropolitan newspapers, was among media companies calling for the government to make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay for the media links that drive viewers and advertising dollars, to their platforms.
Google had also objected for months and threatened, like Facebook, to withdraw core services from the country, before signing deals with most media outlets – including News Corp – in the days before the rules became law.
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