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Facebook to restore Australian news pages after tweaks to media law

Tech & IT desk || shiningbd

Published: 13:16, 23 February 2021   Update: 13:38, 23 February 2021
Facebook to restore Australian news pages after tweaks to media law

Representational image

Facebook will restore Australian news pages after Canberra offered amendments to a proposed law designed to force tech giants to pay for media content displayed on their platforms, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Tuesday.

Australia and the social media group have been locked in a standoff for more than a week after the government introduced legislation that challenged Facebook and Alphabet Inc's Google's dominance in the news content market.

Facebook last week blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts.

But after a series of talks between Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the weekend, a concession deal has been struck.

Australia will offer four amendments, which include a change to the mandatory arbitration mechanism used when the tech giants cannot reach a deal with publishers over fair payment for displaying news content.

"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 recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them," Facebook said in a statement posted online.

The amendments include a two-month mediation period before the government-appointed arbitrator intervenes, giving the parties more time to reach a private deal.

It also inserts a rule that an internet company's contribution to the "sustainability of the Australian news industry" via existing deals be taken into account.

The issue has been widely watched internationally as other countries including Canada and Britain consider similar legislation.

ShiningBD/MB