Communications Minister slams Meta for not renewing media bargaining deals

Facebook’s parent company Meta says it does not intend to renew its commercial deals with Australian news media companies.

Forced to the bargaining table after the government introduced the Media Bargaining Code, Meta agreed to deals with media companies worth millions of dollars. The company says the deals will not be renewed and that it will remove its news tab from Facebook Australia.

Three years ago, the company signed deals with Australian news outlets which required tech giants sauch as Facebook and Google to pay for displaying news on their platforms.

The deals are due to expire in the next few months and had provided Australian media companies with up to $200 million, according to the government.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland accused Meta of “a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media. The decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses. Australian news publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide.”

Mike Sneesby, CEo of Nine Entertainment, owner of Nine Radio said “Meta’s decision does not recognise the significant and increasing value of Nine’s journalism, unique content and brands to its platforms. Regardless of the Meta announcement today, the value created on their platform from the use of Nine’s IP is both unquestionable and growing and we strongly believe Meta should negotiate in good faith around the fair compensation for that value exchange.”

ABC Managing Director David Anderson said the funding is used, amongst other things, to support 60 journalists. Meta’s decision will “create a financial challenge for the ABC that would need to be resolved on a whole of ABC basis,” said Anderson. The ABC will “continue to work with the government” to resolve the situation.

In a statement, Facebook said its users were not coming to its platform for news and political content and that it would invest its money elsewhere. “This is part of an ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most,” said Meta.

The Australian government has avenues to respond, including the power to “designate” Facebook, which would force it into arbitration with media companies to determine remuneration for news content.

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