Facebook has signed a three-year contract with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in Australia for journalism contents from its local mastheads.
The deal was secured weeks after Australia passed a controversial world-first law aimed at making tech platforms pay for news content.The deal covers all of News Corp’s content in the country, which is a significant amount.
Like other publishers globally, Australian media outlets have lost revenue in the past decade as advertisers turned to internet giants such as Facebook and Google.
News Corp spearheaded a lobbying campaign in Australia with support from its traditional rivals to get politicians to make the tech firms pay for news content from its sites.
The Australian government then drew up legislation which it said would enshrine “fairer” contract negotiations between media and tech companies.
It also encourages tech firms to strike their own commercial deals with media outlets, such as this one between Facebook and News Corp, as without such deals, the law would potentially force tech firms into forced arbitration with publishers over the value of content.
Both Google and Facebook had been strongly resistant to the media bargaining code.
BBC earlier reported that the battle over the law’s design led Facebook to suddenly block all access to Australian news content on its site last month.The news ban lasted for about a week before the Australian government made concessions and passed the law on 25 February.
On Tuesday, News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson praised the Facebook deal as a “landmark in transforming the terms of trade for journalism”.
Although analysts looking at Australia’s media law have long suggested that,it is primarily designed to help big firms like News Corp as opposed to smaller media titles.
Mr Murdoch’s media empire began with his Australian newspapers. News Corp Australia controls about 70% of newspaper circulation in Australia with mastheads including The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun. It also owns news.com.au.
It also owns the Fox News-modelled conservative TV network Sky News Australia, which has grown to become the most-shared Australian news brand on Facebook.
News Corp already has a different deal with Facebook for its US media titles. It involves the platform paying for stories to include in its Facebook News tab – a product not available in Australia.
The Australian deal is far more broad – it covers all News Corp Australia content shared on Facebook.