Meta pulls the pin on news media deals with publishers and axes news tab


Meta said the move aimed “to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most.”

Meta has confirmed it will not renew its deals to pay Australian publishers for news content when the existing Media Code deals expire this year. 

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

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

Meta also promised that “we will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”

In early April, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram will shut down Facebook News in Australia andthe United States. The dedicated news tab was axed in the UK, France, and Germany last year. 

Unlike the now-notorious news ban that Meta briefly imposed in 2021, users will still be able to view links to news articles on Facebook. News publishers will still have access to their Facebook accounts and pages, where they can post links to their stories and direct people to external websites.

Facebook attributed the decision to a drop in traffic to the dedicated Facebook News tab. 

“As a company, we have to focus our time and resources on things people tell us they want to see more of on the platform, including short-form video. The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the U.S. has dropped by over 80% last year.

“We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content – they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities, passions and interests. As we previously shared in 2023, news makes up less than 3% of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, and is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people.”

Last month Lucinda Longcroft, director of government affairs & public policy at Google Australia and New Zealand, said, “We’ve been partnering with Australian news companies to strengthen quality journalism for two decades through our products, programs and commercial partnerships.

“Over the past three years, we’ve furthered our significant contribution to the Australian news industry by signing commercial agreements with more than 70 Australian news businesses, representing more than 200 outlets across the country. The majority of these outlets are regional or local.”

The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code – also called the Media Code laws – was established in 2021 by the government to force digital giants such as Google and Facebook to pay Australian news companies for any content featured on their platforms. 

After a lengthy process, the senate presented its report into the laws, and Google launched its News Showcase product to comply with them. From there, major media platforms began making deals with Google and Facebook.

Responses to Meta’s announcement 

Responding to the announcement, on Friday afternoon, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland described the move as “a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media.”

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

“We will now work through all available options under the News Media Bargaining Code. The Government will continue to engage with news publishers and platforms through this process.”

Michael Miller, News Corp Australasia executive chairman, said in a statement, “I welcome the government’s support for the Australian media industry and its wholehearted commitment to upholding our laws and the News Media Bargaining Code. 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.

“Meta is attempting to mislead Australians by saying its decision is 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.

“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.”

Seven West Media CEO James Warburton said, “Meta needs to be designated. The case has not only been made but proven and we welcome Ministers Jones and Rowland’s commitment to the News Media Bargaining Code. We will work constructively with the ACCC and Treasury to ensure their designation.”

Nine CEO Mike Sneesby said: “Meta’s decision does not recognise the significant and increasing value of Nine’s journalism, unique content and brands to its platforms. 

“We believe the News Media Bargaining Code provides an appropriate framework for a fair value exchange between companies.

“Regardless of the Meta announcement today, the value created on their platform from the use of Nine’s IP is both unquestionable and growing and we strongly believe Meta should negotiate in good faith around the fair compensation for that value exchange.

“We welcome the government’s comments that recognise Meta has acted unreasonably and support its commitment to seek a fair outcome for Australian news media. We will work closely and constructively with the government and the relevant regulators to achieve this.

“We will continue to robustly advocate that these deals are in the national interest and the arguments that led to the code in the first place remain as strong as ever.”

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said, “The announcement from Meta that it will no longer pay for the use of Australian news content on Facebook is disappointing but unsurprising. We call on the Government to immediately designate all Meta platforms – Facebook, Instagram and Reels – under the News Media Bargaining Code, and require it to pay a fair price for the news content shared widely on its platforms. Meta does not employ any Australians to produce news but captures significant value from the sharing of trusted news content as part of its service offering.

“There has never been a more important time for news media businesses to receive fair remuneration for their trusted news content that is relied upon by all Australians.”

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