Facebook strikes landmark deals with Australian media companies

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Facebook has reached a three-year deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to pay for news content in Australia, capping a dramatic stand-off over the country's new media laws.

The law's passage occurred after a bitter standoff between USA -based Facebook and News Corp, owned by global media mogul Rupert Murdoch, that culminated with the social media giant blocking all Australian news content from the site, as well as the websites of several public agencies and emergency services, including pages that include up-to-date information on COVID-19 outbreaks, brushfires and other natural disasters.

Thomson thanked the Australian government for "taking a principled stand for publishers" through its laws that could force Facebook and Google pay for news content.

The agreement covers newspapers such as The Australian, the Herald Sun and Australia's Daily Telegraph with a parallel agreement for Sky News Australia.

"The agreement with Facebook is a milestone in shaping the journalism framework and will have a significant and significant impact on our Australian news business", said Robert Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of News Corp.

Facebook has also announced preliminary pay deals with independent news organizations including Private Media, Schwartz Media and Solstice Media.

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which drew up the new laws, told Reuters: 'I've always had the view we need to see this playing out. Facebook's move to block all news content on its platform in Australia for a week in February angered world leaders, as the blackout included emergency services and government health pages.

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The partnership allows News Corp's US, UK and Australian publications to be featured on Google's News Showcase platform.

This means that the media bargaining code, which threatens tech titans with arbitration if they don't strike deals with publishers, will likely not apply to either Facebook or Google for now.

News Corp has reached similar news-licensing agreements with Google and Apple Inc.

Today, News Corp announced that it had struck a deal with the social media giant, although the financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

No official statement has been provided by Nine Entertainment Co - the owner of Pedestrian Group, publisher of this masthead - but the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the company has signed a letter of intent with Facebook. It eventually restored news content there after the government agreed on making some changes to the legislation. The big headline is when a small local news outlet is able to confidently negotiate with Facebook and get paid for news content they create for their communities.

Sky News Australia, also owned by Murdoch, extended an existing agreement with Facebook.

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