Australian MPs to okay changes to new pay-for-news law

The government introduced amendments to the so-called Media Bargaining Code after Facebook last week escalated a dispute over the new laws by blocking Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its popular social media platform.
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:39 AM IST
Facebook on Wednesday pledged to invest at least $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years. (AFP)

Agencies

Australian lawmakers are expected to approve amendments to landmark legislation to force Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay media companies for news content, despite opposition from some minor political parties.

The government introduced amendments to the so-called Media Bargaining Code after Facebook last week escalated a dispute over the new laws by blocking Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its popular social media platform.

Australia’s Senate began debating the amendments on Wednesday. The ruling conservative Liberal Party does not have a majority in the upper house, but support from the opposition Labour Party is expected to be enough to pass the bill.

“What we’ve sworn to do is create a level playing field,” Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Sky News on Wednesday. “We’ve sought to sustain public interest journalism in this country, and we’ve also sought to enhance and encourage those commercial deals between the parties.”

Facebook set to invest $1billn in news industry

Facebook on Wednesday pledged to invest at least $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years, days after a high-profile standoff with the Australian government over paying news outlets for content.

Facebook on Tuesday restored Australian news pages, ending a week-long blackout after wringing concessions from the government over a proposed law that will require all tech giants to pay media companies for their news content.

In a blog detailing its version of the showdown, Facebook said the news ban was related to a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the relationship between the company and news publishers. It also acknowledged that some non-news content got inadvertently blocked when it had banned all news content.

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