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Meta To End Payments To Australian News Publishers, Sparks Regulatory Tensions

Meta defended its decision, emphasizing that links to news articles constitute only a fraction of users’ feeds

Meta, the parent company of Facebook has announced its decision to cease payments to Australian news publishers for content shared on its platform. 

This move reignites a contentious battle with Canberra, which pioneered a law compelling internet giants to engage in licensing agreements with news outlets.

The global debate surrounding the financial dynamics between tech giants and news publishers reached a new phase as Meta Platforms stated it would discontinue payments to Australian news publishers. 

Canberra’s legislation aimed to ensure fair compensation for news content shared on platforms like Facebook and Google.

Meta defended its decision, emphasizing that links to news articles constitute only a fraction of users’ feeds, and publishers can still share news content on their own Facebook pages. 

The company also mentioned discontinuing the news promotion tab on Facebook in Australia and the United States, following similar actions taken last year in the UK, France, and Germany.

In response to Meta’s move, the Australian government expressed concern, signaling a potential escalation in the regulatory conflict. 

Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones issued a joint statement, criticizing Meta’s decision as a “dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media.”

This decision by Meta is expected to impact major media outlets in Australia, including News Corp and the Australian Broadcasting Corp, as it removes a significant revenue source. 

The 2021 law had compelled Meta and Google into licensing deals, which were set to expire in 2024 for Meta and 2026 for Google.

Australia’s response involves seeking advice from the Treasury and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission on potential next steps. 

The government may consider appointing a mediator to determine Meta’s fees in a new round of deals, as per the provisions of the existing law.

The legislative landscape on this issue has seen a similar law in Canada, resulting in an ongoing news blackout. 

Meta’s resistance to these laws had previously led to a temporary news blackout on Facebook in Australia in 2021. 

The impact of this latest development will likely reverberate in the ongoing global discussion on the relationship between tech giants and news publishers. 

As negotiations loom, the decision by Meta Platforms holds implications for the future of news distribution and compensation on digital platforms.

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