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Meta pulls out of crucial news content deals

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Meta, the owner of Facebook, is abandoning its deals with Australian publishers that see the tech giant pay for the news content it uses, in a move that is expected to cost media groups tens of millions of dollars.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Meta announced today in a statement that it will scrap its news bookmark tab on Facebook in early April.

“To ensure that we continue to invest in products and services that drive user engagement, 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,” Meta said in its statement.

“As we previously shared in 2023, news makes up less than 3 per cent 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.”

In other words, Meta will not be removing news content from Facebook — it just won’t be paying for it.

This move has serious ramifications for the Australian news industry, both for large and small publishers alike, given that Meta draws significant advertising revenue off the back of the publishers’ work, and those publishers will no longer be compensated by Meta for that content.

Meta in a blog post said interest in its Facebook new stab had declined by 80 per cent.
Meta in a blog post said interest in its Facebook new stab had declined by 80 per cent. Photo: SMH.

Meta’s commercial relationships with news publishers are estimated to be worth around $65 million per year. The majority of Meta’s three-year contracts, including several negotiated with Google, are slated to expire this year.

The federal government will come under pressure to “designate” Meta under the terms of the news media bargaining code, which would force them into arbitration for content payments, with the threat of massive fines to those unwilling to compensate news outlets.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones and Communications Minister Michelle Rowland have today accused the company of “a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese Anthony also blasted Meta, labelling the company’s move as “unfair” and “not the Australian way.”

“We’re very concerned with this announcement … It is absolutely critical that media is able to function and be properly funded,” Mr Albanese said in Melbourne.

“We will consider what options we have available and we will talk to the media companies as well.”

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

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