Community broadcasting sector news disproportionately impacted by Facebook’s decision

The Community Broadcasting sector has released the following statement today following Facebook’s decision to block a number of pages.

Facebook’s decision to block the sharing of news content on its platform has significantly impacted hundreds of community broadcasters, whose pages are now blank including First Nations media organisations, faith-based, regional and multicultural broadcasters.
We call for the immediate reinstatement of community broadcasting organisations’ Facebook pages, which were blocked overnight in response to the Government’s proposed Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code.
Community broadcasting represents underrepresented voices, champions marginal communities, shares local and regional news, and connects communities. The community broadcasting sector is deeply disappointed about this decision and its ramifications.
Community broadcasting is deeply embedded within local communities. It is essential to serving their needs and the public interest. Like other media, community broadcasting has been heavily impacted by digital disruption.
Facebook has become one of the ways audiences find and engage with their local media and communities. In censoring these local voices, Facebook is proving that monopoly power, and highly concentrated media ownership, will always act first in their own interest, and not for the broader public interest.
We call on Facebook to negotiate in good faith with news media companies and the Federal Government, as others like Google have done.
We feel greatly for our sector’s staff and thousands of volunteers who work tirelessly to increase the diversity of news reaching Australians, by amplifying broadcast content through building a Facebook following and tracking their engagement.
The community media sector is a significant contributor to the diversity of news content available to the Australian public. The contribution of news content relevant to vulnerable and culturally diverse communities has a significant role in influencing conversations within broader audiences and other media. In our communities, the silencing of representative news is damaging and traumatising.
“In a time of disinformation, we are very concerned about Facebook’s decision and fear the impact it will have on our communities – making it even harder for audiences to receive timely health and emergency information in their own languages and in a culturally appropriate way.” – Jon Bisset, Community Broadcasting Association of Australia’s CEO.
The community broadcasting sector submitted to the Australian Government that not-for-profit community broadcasters be specifically included in the Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code, ensuring fair consideration and compensation for news production. We have not been specifically included, and yet, are significantly impacted by Facebook’s removal of community media news.
The sector continues to seek Government reform that fairly treats and invests in diverse creators of public interest journalism, including smaller media organisations and community broadcasters. We also call on the Government to seek an immediate resolution with Facebook.
This decision by Facebook disproportionately impacts small organisations and suppresses the voices of those who need access to the national dialogue the most.
This statement has been endorsed by the members of the Community Broadcasting Sector Roundtable.

First Nations Media released their own statement today encouraging the Australian Government to seek an immediate resolution to its conflict with Facebook and to protect the First Nations media industry from further negative impacts

First Nations Media Australia calls for the immediate reinstatement of First Nations media organisation Facebook pages blocked overnight in response to the Government’s proposed Mandatory News Bargaining Code.
First Nations media organisations provide essential information services to First Nations communities. Many organisations have built strong social media followings as a forum for community engagement on topics relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences.
Around half of First Nations Media Australia member organisations have had their Facebook pages blocked today.
“We are outraged that access to First Nations voices has been limited in this way. Never has our media been more vital than during a global pandemic – especially on the cusp of vaccination rollouts,” said Dot West, First Nations Media Australia Chair.

“First Nations media services are not the same as commercial outlets and should not be negatively impacted by an industry wide response to corporate interests.”
First Nations Media Australia has provided input to the ACCC’s processes in developing the proposed Mandatory News Bargaining Code, encouraging flexibility in the legislation to avoid unintended consequences such as this.
There are significant definitional issues associated with the proposed Code and significant issues caused by changes to site access and algorithms with no notice by Facebook. Both of which are exemplified by the hit and miss implementation of the restrictions today which have impacted health organisations, community media, First Nations media and other service providers in inconsistent and problematic ways.
“We stand with our sister sectors across community media in asserting that addressing the financial interests of commercial enterprises should not come at the expense of independent publishers of information vital to community safety and democracy in this country,” said Dot West.

“The silencing of sovereign voices in this way is unacceptable and inconsistent with Facebook’s messaging in celebration of Black History Month and the platform’s mission to empower people to build community.”
First Nations Media Australia urges the Australian Government to seek an immediate resolution to its conflict with Facebook and to protect the First Nations media industry from further negative impacts.
Furthermore, First Nations Media Australia calls on the Australian Government to recognise the importance of First Nations news and journalism by providing support for the production of news content essential to First Nations communities as proposed in First Nations Media Australia’s Pre-Budget Submission 2021.




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