Facebook ended a week-long Australian news blackout on its popular social media site on Friday and announced a preliminary business agreement with three small local publishers.

The move reflects the easing of tensions between the American company and the Australian government. Just the day after the country’s parliament passed a law that forced the company and Alphabet’s Google to pay local media companies by using content on the platform.

The new law makes Australia the first country where government arbitrators can set prices. If private negotiations fail, Facebook and Google will show their prices to domestic media. Canada and other countries have shown interest in replicating Australia’s reforms.

Facebook said it has signed cooperation agreements with Schwartz Media, Solstice Media and Private Media. These three people own a variety of publications, including weekly newspapers, online magazines and professional journals.

Facebook did not disclose the financial details of the agreement. If all transactions are signed, the agreement will take effect within 60 days.

The social media company said in a statement: “These agreements will bring new quality news to Facebook, including some previously paid content.”

This non-binding agreement alleviates some concerns that small Australian publishers will be excluded from revenue sharing transactions with Facebook and Google.

Rebecca Costello, CEO of Schwartz Media, said: “Having multiple voices in the Australian media has never been more important.”

Facebook reached a similar agreement with Seven West Media on Tuesday, which owns the free TV network and Perth’s major metropolitan newspaper.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it is also in talks with Facebook.

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If the media law goes into effect, Facebook and Google threatened to withdraw their core services from Australia for several months.

In the process of passing the legislation through the Parliament, Google reached deals with a number of publishers, including News Corporation, while Facebook took a more drastic step by blocking all news content in Australia.

This position led to amendments to the law, including giving the government powers to exempt Facebook or Google from compulsory arbitration, and Facebook began to restore the Australian news site on Friday.

Thomson Reuters 2021 ©


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