Australia and Facebook are friends again following a five day ban that saw news sites kicked off the platform with the tech giant set to make “good faith” negotiations with news businesses.
And it won’t be just the major news sites involved with Facebook agreeing to consider deals for smaller and regional publishers.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the agreement is the result of “intensive negotiations” which involved Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“We’ve agreed to make some clarifications to the code. When it comes to the designation process by the Treasurer of a particular digital platform a one month notice period will be put in place,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“The Treasurer will also take into account not just the unequal bargaining position between the digital platform and the Australian news media businesses but also the commercial deals that have been put in place and that digital platform’s commitment to supporting public interest journalism in this country.
“Ahead of the formal arbitration process will be a period of up to two months for a mediation.
“There is already is a three month period for a negotiation and, if that is not successful, then it moves to an up to two month period for mediation ahead of final offer arbitration.
Mr Frydenberg also emphasised that the news media bargaining code maintains its integrity.
He called it a “mandatory code – a world leading code.”
Frydenberg also thanked the Facebook CEO for his involvement in the talks.
“I want to thank Mark Zuckerberg for the constructive nature of the discussions that we have had over the course of recent days,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“It’s been a difficult process but these are really important issues.
“These are important issues because the purpose of the code and the purpose of the Morrison Government’s intentions all along as being designed to sustain public interest journalism in this country
“That’s why we’ve sought to put this code in place, that is why the now Prime Minister then Treasurer commissioned the ACCC to undertake this ground-breaking review a number of years ago.”
Communication Minister Paul Fletcher, who was also a part of the Australian Government’s negotiation team with Facebook, said the whole reason for the code was to give digital platforms like Google and Facebook the incentive to make deals with Australian news media businesses.
“It’s an example of a negotiate arbitrate model which is used in a range of ways within Australia competition law and policy and these technical changes will further give a strong incentive for those commercial deals building on what we’ve already seen announced as between Google and parties like 7West and Nine Entertainment Limited, News Corp and The Guardian,” Mr Fletcher said.
“The second point I’d simply highlight is the requirement in the legislation for the Treasurer to consider the extent to which commercial deals have been done before he makes a decision to designate will be important in terms of smaller and regional publishers.
“There’s a mechanism there for a default offer for smaller regional publishers and, of course, the Treasurer will be able to have consideration whether the deals in place are not just for the large publishers but also for those smaller and regional publishers.”