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Australia: New law causes further alliance between Facebook and mainstream media (sidelining independent outlets)

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Australia recently passed a law forcing Facebook and Google to pay new outlets. Under the law, the government can intervene when negotiations between a news outlet and a social media platform fail.

But, as expected, the law has caused further arrangements between the Big Tech giant and large mainstream media corporations, leaving out independent news outlets that were already suffering from the monopolies at play.

Facebook announced that it had concluded negotiations with Australian news outlets in deals to pay them for content displayed in the newly launched “Facebook News.” But the Big Tech company did not make deals with multiple outlets, including the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), which is among the country’s five national free-to-air channels and a major source for foreign news in the country.

SBS said it made efforts to enter negotiations with Facebook over several months unsuccessfully. The snub from Facebook was surprising and disappointing as SBS reached a deal with Google.

“This outcome is at odds with the Government’s intention of supporting public interest journalism, and in particular including the public service broadcasters in the Code framework with respect to remuneration,” an SBS spokesperson said in a statement.

The conclusion of deals was announced by Facebook’s head of news partnerships Andrew Hunter in emails to publishers. The email, which is yet to be publicized, added that the rejected outlets would still benefit from traffic redirected from Facebook and journalism grants it recently announced.

Speaking to Reuters, Hunter said that the deals with news providers were “just one of the ways that Facebook provides support to publishers, and we’ve been having ongoing discussions with publishers about the types of news content that can best deliver value for publishers and for Facebook.”

Broadsheet Media founder Nick Shelton said that the decision to stop further negotiations with news outlets was “clearly an attempt from Facebook to cap their exposure to independent publishers.”

Most of the news outlets Facebook rejected are small and independent publishers.

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