Facebook to lift news ban in Australia

Less than a week ago, Facebook banned all news access in Australian feeds. However, BD can now report that the tech giant plans to reintroduce news coverage for Aussie users.

The Morrison Government is set to make further amendments to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, in order to address the concerns that Facebook originally had.

"We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers," said Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director, William Easton. 

"After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian Government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals, that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them."

According to a release from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister Paul Fletcher, the amendments are set to provide “further clarity” to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the code is intended to operate and strengthen the framework for ensuring news media businesses are fairly remunerated.

These amendments will make it clear that:

“A decision to designate a platform under the code must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses," the statement said.

"A digital platform will be notified of the government’s intention to designate prior to any final decision – noting that a final decision on whether or not to designate a digital platform would be made no sooner than one month from the date of notification."

"Non-differentiation provisions will not be triggered because commercial agreements resulted in different remuneration amounts or commercial outcomes that arose in the course of usual business practices."

"And final offer arbitration is a last resort where commercial deals cannot be reached by requiring mediation, in good faith, to occur prior to arbitration for no longer than two months.”

Facebook VP, global news partnerships, Campbell Brown also spoke out saying they have come to an agreement that will allow Facebook to support the publishers they choose to, including small and local publishers. 

"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," he said. 

"It’s always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we’ll continue to invest in news globally and resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook," said Brown.

As for when you will start to see your regular news programming back up and running - Facebook said it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days. 

Image source: James Bareham / The Verge