/ 24 February 2021

Hello Zuck? It’s Josh here…

After 6 calls between Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg since Monday, the tech giant will remove the block on Australian news. A deal was struck yesterday with the government agreeing to amend the proposed media bargaining laws that will see Facebook and Google to pay Aussie news outlets for their content.

There are a couple of things. First, the government won’t apply the code if the tech company can demonstrate they have deals in place with the media outlets to pay them for content. And second, the tech companies will have more time to do deals with news providers before the government gets involved. Given the changes, Facebook’s Aussie boss Will Easton said “we can now work to further our investment in public-interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians”. And Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it has “been a difficult process, but these are really important issues.”

The legislation is still in the Senate, and it could pass through the parliament by the end of tomorrow. For Facebook, it was quick out of the gates yesterday afternoon with an announcement that it’s reached a commercial agreement with Seven West Media to pay for news content. Facebook also has negotiations underway with News Corp and Nine Entertainment. And on the Google side, it’s already done content deals with Seven West Media, Nine, News Corp and the Guardian. As for you – you’ll continue to be sucked into the time-eater that is Googlin’ stuff and scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed. But going forward, the tech companies will be paying for the Aussie news content you see – or at least some of it, anyway.

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