Robert Thomson: “Argy-bargy” between Meta and Australian government result of “disappointing” decision

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Plus: Facebook should be focussed on its “responsibility to all Australians”

After executive chairman of News Corp Australia, Michael Miller, wrote on Monday that the way that the government responds to Meta refusing to sign future Media Code deals is becoming “a vital moment,” Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, has added his thoughts.

See Also: Michael Miller: Government’s response to Meta will be “watched closely on the international stage”

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, California, Thomson began by speaking about how Generative AI is another form of distribution, and “if you’re not very conscious of the risk, then the risk may outweigh the opportunity.”

Moving from AI into a wider discussion about distribution, Thomson continued, “We have a very good relationship with Google which continues in multifaceted ways. There’s some argy-bargy with Facebook in Australia at the moment. We’ll see what that digital denouement is, but I think we’re early in that particular conflict, and that is the right way to describe it.

“It’s important as a community that we focus on facts, and provide information. The swirl or maelstrom of muck out there is disfiguring communities, it’s having a profoundly negative impact on a lot of young people.”

Thomson went on to call Meta’s decision to pull out of further News Media Bargaining Code deals “disappointing,” pointing to the fact that Meta is a company that talks about community.  

“When you look at the damage that’s been done to communities, it’s disappointing when you look at Facebook suggesting for example, that 3% of usage relates to news. That’s obviously a fiction, a preposterous figure. I mean, how much discussion is there around news? You have the core news and then I can tell you 100% of the contemporary factual information on Facebook is news. And so those are the numbers that really, Facebook should be focused on as well as being focused on its responsibility to all Australians.”

Finally, moderator Morgan Stanley’s Andrew McLeod, asked Thomson his thoughts on what the next steps are now that Meat’s decision has been made.

“Clearly the government has a view, which it’s perfectly entitled to. Clearly, we have a view that we’re perfectly entitled to. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks, but I suspect that we haven’t seen the final frame of that movie,” Thomson concluded.  

Top Image: Robert Thomson

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