Facebook agreed to pay Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for its journalistic content in Australia, a month after the social media platform temporarily blocked news links within the country due to legislation pressuring digital giants to compensate publishers. .
The multi-year agreement, announced Tuesday, includes news content from Murdoch’s conservative mainstream media outlets such as The Australian, a national newspaper, and the news site news.com.au, as well as other metropolitan, regional and regional publications. community.
It comes a month after Google submitted its own three-year global agreement with News Corp to pay for the publisher’s news content, and after Facebook backed down, under heavy criticism, from its drastic step of blocking the exchange or viewing news links in Australia. .
Few details were released, including how much Facebook will pay News Corp for the content.
In a statement Tuesday, Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, said the deal, which he called a “milestone”, “would have a material and significant impact on our Australian news businesses.”
News Corp leaders, Thomson added, had “led a global debate” as the rise of the digital giants had impoverished the news industry. With the deal, he said, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team helped “forge a future for journalism, which has been under extreme pressure.”
Critics said, however, that the agreement did little to guarantee the kind of public interest journalism promoted by the Australian government when it proposed the legislation, which was passed last month.
“There is no guarantee that the public will benefit,” said Tanya Notley, a senior communication professor at the University of Western Sydney, who noted that the first major news companies to strike deals with Facebook were conservative and aligned with the current government. .
Others said it further emphasized the inordinate power of social media companies to control news and public information. “They are the gatekeepers of news for public consumption,” said Marc Cheong, who researches digital ethics at the University of Melbourne.
In a statement, Facebook said the deals would help people gain access to news articles and breaking news videos from a network of national, metropolitan, rural and suburban newsrooms.
“We are committed to bringing Facebook News to Australia,” said Andrew Hunter, director of Facebook partnerships in Australia and New Zealand.
That was a markedly different tone from the one the tech giant took in February, when Facebook blocked the news in Australia.
At the time, William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, said of the draft Australian legislation: “The proposed law fundamentally misinterprets the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it to share news content.”
While the Australian government has pointed to the consolidation of digital advertising spending at companies like Google and Facebook, the tech giants say they benefit news companies by driving traffic to their sites.
Facebook has also announced preliminary payment agreements with independent news organizations, including Private Media, Schwartz Media, and Solstice Media. But so far, it has only consolidated deals with News Corp and Seven West Media, another major conservative news company.
Sky News Australia, also owned by Murdoch, expanded an existing deal with Facebook.