Meta to scrap deals with Australian publishers under 2021 media code

Nathan SchmidtNCA NewsWire
Not Supplied
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has slammed Facebook parent company Meta for its “contempt” for Australian media after announcing plans to axe local news deals.

The social media giant revealed on Friday it would not renew deals with local outlets when they expire this year and would remove its Facebook News tab in April.

In a statement, Meta said the move was part of an “ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most”.

“The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the US has dropped by over 80 per cent last year,” the statement said.

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“We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content – they come to connect with people.”

Supplied Editorial Meta has begun quietly nudging out a significant number of
 staffers. Source: Getty Images.
Camera IconFacebook parent company Meta will cease paying for news in Australia. Getty Images. Credit: Supplied

The move will mark an end to the three-year deal struck between Meta and a host of publishers in 2021 under the news media bargaining code.

The deals ensured the social media behemoth paid local outlets for the third party news content it published on its website.

By cancelling the deal, Meta is seen not to be removing news content from the Facebook platform; instead, it just will not pay for it.

News of the cancellation drew quick condemnation from the federal government.

Mr Marles told Sky News that he was “very disappointed” in Meta’s decision.

“I think this shows contempt really on the part of Meta in respect of the news sector and news organisations in this country,” he said.

“At the end of the day at news organisations, the news sector has a right to be properly remunerated for the product which they produce.

“We need to have a vibrant news sector which is underpinned by journalism and journalists with a journalistic ethic, and all of that is really important.

“That’s how you get reliable news. I think Meta has shown complete contempt for that sector in this country by the decision they have made.”

Camera IconDeputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said he was disappointed by the move. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

In a joint statement, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said the government’s expectations were clear.

“Meta’s decision to no longer pay for news content in a number of jurisdictions represents a dereliction of its commitment to sustainability of Australian news media.

“The decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses. News publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide.

“The Australian Government is committed to the News Media Bargaining Code and is seeking advice from Treasury and the ACCC on next steps.”

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller joined media executives in slamming Meta for using its “immense market power to refuse to negotiate”.

“I welcome the government’s support for the media industry and its wholehearted commitment to upholding our laws and the News Media Bargaining Code,” he said.

“Meta is using its immense market power to refuse to negotiate, and the government is right to explore every option for how the Media Bargaining Code’s powers can be used.”

Camera IconCommunications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government’s expectations of Meta were clear. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Miller said Meta was attempting to mislead Australians by saying its decision was “about the closure of its news tab product”.

“However, the vast majority of news on Facebook and Meta is and will continue to be consumed outside this product,” he said.

“Meta’s decision will directly impact the viability of Australia’s many small and regional publishers and this is a pressing issue for the government to confront.

“We will work in any way we can to assist the processes the government is putting in place.”

Meta announced in September 2023 that it was removing the Facebook News tabs from its sites in the UK, France, and Germany.

News deals struck with US and the UK had also already expired prior to Friday’s announcement.

The social media company claims news makes up less than 3 per cent of what people see globally in their Facebook feed.

Originally published as Meta to scrap deals with Australian publishers under 2021 media code

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