Government and ACCC “considering options” after Meta’s decision to ditch news media deals

Labor - Anthony Albanese - meta

“The idea that research and work done by others can be taken for free is simply untenable.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has hit out Meta’s decision not to renew its deals to pay Australian news publishers for content, with the government consulting with the ACCC on the next steps. 

Albanese told reporters the government would “stand up” for the country’s news media publishers after Meta confirmed it would not renegotiate deals to pay for news content and would axe its news tab in Australia. 

The move comes just three years after the introduction of the News Media Bargaining Code, which stipulated that digital platforms could be required to negotiate with registered news media companies over remuneration for news content featured on the platform. 

While Meta (which was known as Facebook at the time) reached voluntary commercial agreements with a number of Australian news media organisations, some of these agreements will expire in the first half of this year. 

Albanese told reporters, “We’re very concerned with this announcement that they’ve made. We will always stand up as a government for Australian media interest and media diversity,” 

“We know that it’s absolutely critical that media is able to function properly and be properly funded. Journalism is important.

“The idea that research and work done by others can be taken for free is simply untenable,” he added.

Albanese noted that the government will “consider the options we have available” and hold discussions with media companies.

“We know the idea that one company can profit from others’ investment, not just investment in capital, but investment in people in journalism, is unfair.

“That’s not the Australian way.

“We know that when it comes to media interests, Australians have a right to know that their companies won’t simply be doing work in order to provide information through the media in Australia that will be appropriated without any costs by a foreign company.

Albanese said Steven Jones, assistant treasurer and minister for financial services, and Michelle Rowland, minister for communications, “will look at what options are available.”

“We will look at what an appropriate government response is, but we will respond in the national interest,” the prime minister concluded.

The ACCC will be providing assistance to the government regarding its response to Meta’s decision to axe its news tab and not renegotiate payment deals with publishers.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “The ACCC remains of the view that access to public interest journalism is essential for Australians, and it is concerning this information will no longer be available on this service.

“The ACCC is providing assistance to the Assistant Treasurer and to Treasury.

“At the direction of Government, the ACCC has conducted a significant body of work on the consumer and competition harms associated with digital platforms, including through contributing to the development of the news media bargaining code in 2020 and 2021.

“The ACCC has proposed a series of further reforms to address competition harms. These proposed measures have been agreed to in principle by the Government.”

It follows the confirmation today that Meta will stop paying publishers for news content and not re-negotiate new Media Code deals once the current deals expire.

The digital giant’s decision follows months of speculation as Meta had expressed concerns with the deals and questioned the value to its business. 

Meanwhile, tech rival Google maintains committed to working with Australian publishers and continuing its news content deals. The tech giant recently confirmed its stance with recent comments from Lucinda Longcroft, the director of government affairs & public policy at Google Australia and New Zealand, highlighting the company’s attitude toward the Australian news industry.

See also: Meta pulls the pin on news media deals with publishers and axes news tab
See also: Google maintains its commitment to news media deals after Meta pulls out

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