• Last week, the social media giant blocked Australian users from sharing or posting news.
  • A series of amendments to the media bargaining laws have been announced by the government.
  • If they could not reach a deal then both the digital platform and the news publisher would go to a mediator with their deals and he/she would pick one.

Facebook decided to reverse its block on news sites in Australia as the government decided to make amendments to the media bargaining code, said Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. This statement comes after a backlash to its reply to proposed media bargaining laws under which major tech giants would be forced to pay money to the news outlets for their content.

Frydenberg and Fletcher said in a statement, “The government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days.” The ministers also said to the news media bargaining code, further amendments would be made by the government.

In response to the code, Facebook last week stopped the users of Australia from posting or even sharing any news links. In this ban, a number of non-news pages including the Bureau of Meteorology and community organizations’ pages were swept up.

The ministers further stated, “After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees which address our main concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value that our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.”

The code’s amendments includes many changes, such as the final offer arbitration – which is something both Facebook and Google were strongly opposed to – is considered as a last resort where through required mediation, economical deals cannot be reached, “in good faith, to occur prior to arbitration for no longer than two months,” they added.

If a deal could not be reached, then with the final offer arbitration, both the digital platform and the news publisher would present their own deals or proposal to an independent mediator and then the mediator would pick one deal which would become binding under law.

Also, the Treasurer will have to provide notice to a platform ahead of its “designation” or included under the code, and it also has to take responsibility for any deals that the company has done.

To show content on the News Showcase platform, 7 West Media, 9 News Corp, and the Guardian have all beat content deals with Google. Facebook wants to conduct its Facebook News service in Australia, but still, it has to sign any deals with the local publishers.


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