Australian news will return to Facebook 'in the coming days', as the government hashes out amendments to the news media bargaining code

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  • Australian news is set to return to Facebook in the coming days.
  • The Federal Government announced that it had agreed on several amendments to the news media bargaining code with the tech giant.
  • Facebook confirmed news was returning to the platform, but reiterated it has the power to pull it again if the code proceeds.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

News will return to Australian Facebook feeds “in the coming days,” Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced, as the government moves to make amendments to the news media bargaining code which sparked a war with global tech giants.

In a press release on Tuesday afternoon, Frydenberg announced several amendments to the code, which sets out a framework for tech giants to pay Australian publishers for their content.

The amendments will “make clear” that a decision to designate a platform – like Facebook or Google – as being covered by code will take into account whether that platform has struck a deal with local publishers beforehand. In other words: if Facebook makes deals with local media companies, it could avoid being subject to the code altogether.

Additionally, the amendments will provide additional notice for platforms if they are to be designated as part of the code, and reiterates that arbitration is the “last resort” where deals cannot be struck.

“These amendments will provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the Code is intended to operate and strengthen the framework for ensuring news media businesses are fairly remunerated,” Frydenberg said.

In a separate statement, Facebook confirmed it would be restoring news for Australian users.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week,” the statement read.

“We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers. After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.

“As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days.”

However, the company’s VP of global news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said news could be pulled again if the government proceeds with the code.

“Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation,” she said.

“It’s always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we’ll continue to invest in news globally and resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook.”

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