CANBERRA, Australia — Google strikes deals in Australia to pay for journalism, but Facebook pledges to restrict information sharing as Australian lawmakers consider forcing digital giants into payment deals.
News Corp. NWS by Rupert Murdoch,
announced a wide-ranging agreement with Alphabet’s GOOGL,
Google Wednesday. Major Australian media organization Seven West Media SWM,
reached an agreement earlier, its rival Nine Entertainment NEC,
would be close to its own pact and Australian Broadcasting Corp. is in negotiation.
But Facebook FB,
said it “will prevent publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content“. The mainstream social network blamed Australia’s proposed law for its decision and said the law “fundamentally disregards the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it”.
Google is rushing to negotiate generous deals with big and small Australian media companies.
News Corp. said it would receive “significant payments” from Google under the three-year deal, which includes heavyweight news outlets in the English-speaking world, such as the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and the New York Post in the United States. United States, the Times and the Sun in the United Kingdom, and the Australian and Sky News in Australia. The deal covers audio and video and News Corp. will also receive a share of Google’s advertising revenue.
News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson thanked Australian officials in a statement, saying they “have stood firm for their country and for journalism.”
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed earlier Wednesday that state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. was also in negotiations and planned to spend all of Google’s revenue on regional journalism.
“There are ongoing negotiations with all major players and minor players right now,” Frydenberg said. “It will help sustain public interest journalism in this country for years to come.”
Frydenberg said “none of these deals would happen” without the bill to create a so-called news media bargaining code.
The Senate will consider the bills after they pass the House of Representatives on Wednesday night.
The code would create an arbitration panel to set a binding price for news in cases where Google and Facebook fail to reach agreements with the media companies whose original journalism they are tied to.
“All I’ve heard from the parties, both in the news media industry and in terms of digital platforms, is that these are generous deals,” Frydenberg said.
“These are fair deals. These are good deals. These are good deals for Australian media companies,” he added.
Google and Facebook, which together account for 81% of online advertising in Australia, condemned the code as unworkable.
Frydenberg said after talks over the weekend with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its Google subsidiary, that he was confident the platforms “want to do these business deals. “.
Frydenberg said he had had a “constructive discussion” with Zuckerberg since Facebook blocked the Australian news.
“He raised a few remaining issues with the government’s news media trading code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try and find a way forward,” Frydenberg tweeted.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the government would not back down on its legislative agenda because of Facebook’s backlash.
“This announcement from Facebook, if they were to maintain this position, would of course call into question the credibility of the platform in terms of news,” Fletcher told ABC.
“In fact, Facebook is telling Australians that the information you see on our platforms does not come from organizations that have editorial policies or fact-checking processes or from journalists who are paid to do the work they do” , added Fletcher.
Google did not provide the terms of its agreement with News Corp. Wednesday.
Australian agreements with Google are being negotiated under Google’s own model, News Showcase. The company has entered into compensation agreements with more than 450 publications worldwide since News Showcase launched in October.
Investment bank JPMorgan estimated that Seven West Media could receive between A$39.5 million ($30.6 million) and A$69.2 million ($53.6 million) a year from its content agreement with Google based on an analysis of similar agreements in France.
Nine has signed a letter of intent with Google for a deal worth more than A$30 million ($23 million) a year for five years, the Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The newspaper cited unnamed industry sources familiar with the negotiations who could not speak publicly due to confidentiality agreements.
Nine said in a statement that he was having “constructive discussions” with Google and Facebook.
Google announced two weeks ago that it had started paying seven much smaller Australian websites under News Showcase. Prices were not disclosed.
Facebook has a comparable product called Facebook News, but it’s not available in Australia. Spokeswoman Mari Melguizo said Facebook was “unable to commence our planned partnerships” with Australian news publishers.
Some media analysts are surprised that Australian media companies are making deals with News Showcase when they could make more money through compulsory arbitration under the government’s code.
Marcus Strom, president of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Australia’s union for journalists, said media companies have a moral obligation to derive revenue from digital newsgathering platforms.
“Any money from these deals needs to end up in the newsroom, not the boardroom,” Strom said. “We will insist on transparency in how these funds are spent.”
Google faces pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for the information. Last month, he signed a deal with a group of French publishers that paves the way for him to make digital copyright payments. Under the agreement, Google will negotiate individual license agreements with newspapers, with payments based on factors such as daily published volume and monthly website traffic.