Facebook Pledges $1 Billion to Australian Media

  • “We’ve invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion more over the next three years.”
  • Clegg didn’t give details of the breakdown of the group’s investments in communication or how they will be made.
  • The amount promised by Facebook is equal to that promised by Google, in October, to pay $1 billion to press editors.

Facebook on Wednesday promised to invest “at least” $1 billion (€822 million) in the next three years in news content in the Australian media industry. The promise follows the high level of criticism that Facebook received after it blocked press articles in Australia, in protest of a law that required technology companies to pay the local Australian media.

The Facebook logo is displayed on their website in an illustration photo taken in Bordeaux.

“We’ve invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion more over the next three years,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, said in a blog post published Wednesday.

Mr. Clegg acknowledged that public service content, including health department and emergency services sites, family violence support information, and community news hubs, should not have been caught up in the ban. 

“It wasn’t a decision taken lightly,” he wrote.

“But when it came, we had to take action quickly because it was legally necessary to do so before the new law came into force, and so we erred on the side of over-enforcement. In doing so, some content was blocked inadvertently. Much of this was, thankfully, reversed quickly.”

However, Mr. Clegg didn’t give details of the breakdown of the group’s investments in communication or how they will be made. “Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers,” said Clegg.

The amount promised by Facebook is equal to that promised by Google, in October, to pay $1 billion to press editors. Publishers including Der Spiegel and Die Zeit in Germany, and Folha de S.Paulo in Brazil, have signed up to be part of the rollout program.

“The business model for newspapers— based on ads and subscription revenue— has been evolving for more than a century as audiences have turned to other sources,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog

“The internet has been the latest shift, and it certainly won’t be the last. . . We want to play our part by helping journalism in the 21st century.” 

Facebook is investing $1 billion in the news industry as Australia passes media bargaining code.

Facebook’s Clegg, without mentioning names, also attacked communication magnate Rupert Murdoch, whose group was pushing for Australian law enforcement.

He stated that forcing Facebook to potentially pay unlimited sums to multinational communications companies was like forcing car manufacturers to finance radio stations because people listen to them behind the wheel and let the stations fix the price.

The compromise found with the Australian government means that Facebook and Google, particularly targeted by the bills, will not be sanctioned if they conclude some agreements with local media to pay for the content.

These platforms will have two months to negotiate the agreements and avoid embarrassing arbitration. Australian media will receive millions of dollars from Google and Facebook.

Google has already agreed to pay “significant sums” in return for the contents of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp. communications group. Canada aims to take similar measures.

Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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