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Facebook Reaches Deal With News Corp. Australia To Pay For News Content

An illustration of a message seen on Facebook mobile last month, when Facebook banned publishers and users in Australia from posting and sharing news content in a dispute over a new law requiring tech platforms to pay for it.
Robert Cianflone
Getty Images
An illustration of a message seen on Facebook mobile last month, when Facebook banned publishers and users in Australia from posting and sharing news content in a dispute over a new law requiring tech platforms to pay for it.

Facebook has reached a deal to pay News Corp.'s Australian arm for local articles that appear on the social media giant's platform – after it briefly pulled the plug on such content to protest a change in the country's media law.

The three-year deal between Facebook and Australia's largest media conglomerate comes after the country's parliament amended a law requiring tech platforms to negotiate with publishers over payment for news stories. It also follows a similar deal between Google and News Corp.

Facebook expressed strong objections to the legislation and last month blocked all news content originating from Australia before backing down amid a firestorm from users and publishers and after the government made some changes to the law.

"The agreement with Facebook is a landmark in transforming the terms of trade for journalism, and will have a material and meaningful impact on our Australian news businesses," News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said in a statement released in New York on Monday.

Thompson, who did not immediately disclose the financial details of the agreement, said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team "deserve credit for their role in helping to fashion a future for journalism, which has been under extreme duress for more than a decade."

Facebook executives praised the deal, saying they looked forward to bringing Facebook News to Australia.

Andrew Hunter, the head of Facebook's news partnerships for Australia and New Zealand said, "Together, the agreements with News Corp Australia and Sky News Australia mean that people on Facebook will gain access to premium news articles and breaking news video from News Corp's network of national, metropolitan, rural and suburban newsrooms."

News Corp., founded by Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, owns about two-thirds of the country's metropolitan newspapers. In addition to mastheads such as The Australian and The Daily Telegraph, it also owns Sky News Australia.

In the U.S., News Corp. owns the New York Post and Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal and Barron's, and Fox Corporation, which includes Fox News Media.

Murdoch's Nine Entertainment also signed a letter of intent with Facebook for use of news articles originating from its properties, which include The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the Herald reports, citing industry sources who are not authorized to speak about the negotiations.

The changes to Australian law and the subsequent deals are seen as a major victory for Murdoch, who has been pushingthe government in Canberra for years to make tech companies pay publishers for news content.

Last month, Australia's smaller Seven West Media announced a similar letter of intent with Facebook to receive payment for content.

Other outlets such as The Guardian Australia and ABC Australia, the national broadcaster, are still hammering out details of their own deal, the Herald reports, citing people familiar with the confidential discussions.

News Corp. struck a similar but separate deal in 2019 for its U.S.-based publications to receive payments for access to stories via Facebook News. The deal was a turnabout for Zuckerberg, who a year earlier suggested that he had no intention to pay for news content.

News Corp. said it now has deals with Facebook, Google and Apple to pay for content.

Apple, Facebook and Google Inc. are among NPR's financial supporters.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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