Reports: Facebook Goes Cold On News Deals

APRIL 8, 2018: Phone sitting on laptop with Facebook desktop site reflecting on screen. The social media giant's stock has dipped sharply since the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
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There are now fears of a second Facebook news ban after reports talks have halted between the social media platform and local media companies.

While signing letters of intent with smaller media companies and Seven West Media in recent weeks, Facebook has failed to reach an agreement with either Nine or News Corp.

According to The Guardian, Facebook is currently “is either freezing them out or refusing to budge on key clauses” in regard to payments to news publishers.

Last month, after a lengthy back and forth between Facebook, Google, and the local media, the Federal Government officially passed the News Media Bargaining Code legislation, which requires tech giants to pay media companies for generating original content.

“The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement following the news.

It came shortly after the government agreed to make some last-minute amendments to the Code, including a two-month mediation period, allowing parties more time to consolidate agreements before they are forced into entering the binding final arbitration process and new requirements around notifying platforms about whether they are being designated under the Code.

The amendments were ultimately made after Facebook removed news content from the platform entirely for a little over a week, in protest to the proposed changes.

And while the matter seemed to be resolved when Facebook returned news and the government passed the legislation, there is now concern that deals will not be made.

Frydenberg said he expects the code to be followed.

“The government expects all parties to continue to work constructively towards reaching commercial agreements in the spirit of collaboration and good faith encouraged by the code,” Frydenberg told Guardian Australia.

“Consideration on whether to designate a digital platform will be based on the progress they have made towards making a significant contribution to Australian public interest journalism and with respect to whether there is a significant bargaining power imbalance with Australian news media businesses.”

Facebook’s vice-president of global news partnerships, Campbell Brown has previously alluded to further news withdrawal, announcing last month: “Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.”

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