Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told a media conference in Canberra on Tuesday afternoon that the new amendments to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code would be introduced today.
"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," he said in a statement.
Facebook has struck a deal with the government to restore news in Australia. Also Facebook now owns Tasmania.— The Shovel (@TheShovel) February 23, 2021
A two-month mediation period will give both sides more time to negotiate commercial deals that could help Facebook avoid having to work under provisions of the Code.
Last Thursday, Facebook said it would restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content, adding that this was in response to the news media code being passed by the House of Representatives the previous night.
made a pretty nifty meme about how I think Australian media will respond to the Facebook bringing news back. let me know what you think in the comments! pic.twitter.com/MCqHM7OIPx— CAMERONWILSON (@cameronwilson) February 23, 2021
"It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter."
The Bureau of Meteorology Facebook page with its news feed restored. Screenshot taken at 5.20am on Wednesday.
Frydenberg said on Tuesday the new amendments would make it clear that:
- a decision to designate a platform under the Code must take into account whether a digital platform had made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses;
- a digital platform would be notified of the government’s intention to designate prior to any final decision – noting that a final decision on whether or not to designate a digital platform would be made no sooner than one month from the date of notification;
- non-differentiation provisions would not be triggered because commercial agreements resulted in different remuneration amounts or commercial outcomes that arose in the course of usual business practices; and
- final offer arbitration would be a last resort where commercial deals could not be reached by requiring mediation, in good faith, to occur prior to arbitration for no longer than two months.
Facebook and Australian Govt reach agreement— Susan Smith (@SusanSmithAus) February 23, 2021
FB statement: pic.twitter.com/kPGxmW2WNH
Easton said on Tuesday: “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.”
Added Frydenberg: "Importantly, the amendments will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms.
"The Explanatory Memorandum will confirm that the Code only applies to the extent a digital platform is making covered news content available through those services.
"These amendments also add further impetus for parties to engage in commercial negotiations outside the Code – a central feature of the framework that the government is putting in place to foster more sustainable public interest journalism in Australia."