News Corp strikes 'landmark' Facebook News deal in Australia

News Corp has struck a “landmark” cash-for-content deal with Facebook in Australia.

The news giant – which publishes the Australian, the Daily Telegraph in New South Wales, the Herald Sun in Victoria and the Courier-Mail in Queensland – will make content available through Facebook News under the “multi-year agreement”.

News Corp also today announced that Sky News Australia, which it also owns, has reached a new deal with Facebook that “extends and significantly builds on an existing arrangement”.

[Read more: Robert Thomson: News Corp’s Google deal will give journalism industry ‘second wind’]

News Corp’s US operation, which publishes titles including the Wall Street Journal, struck a three-year Facebook News deal in October 2019. 

Robert Thomson, News Corp’s chief executive, revealed earlier this month that the publisher was “haggling” with Facebook over deals in both Australia and the UK. No deal between Facebook and News UK – which publishes the Sun and Times titles – has yet been announced. 

Facebook News is a tab that has been available to users in the US since 2019. It launched in the UK this year, will launch in Germany in May, and is expected to go live in Australia later. Participating publishers have agreed multi-year contracts with Facebook to make their content available on the tab.

The value of these deals appears to vary by publisher size. In the US, for instance, some local news publishers are paid $500,000 a year, while larger, national publications are said to be paid millions of dollars a year.

[Read more: Facebook News: US publishers happy with cash for content – but say project is a ‘PR move’]

News Corp’s Australian deal with Facebook comes after it struck a global cash-for-content agreement with Google in February. Under this deal, agreed as Australia was putting in place new rules forcing Facebook and Google to pay for news content, News Corp content will be made available through the Google News Showcase.

Australia has, over the last year, become the key battleground between the Duopoly (Google and Facebook) and publishers, whose advertising revenues have been eaten away by the tech giants. Australia’s parliament passed the media bargaining code last month and more publishers could now begin to strike deals with the Big Tech companies.

Announcing the deal with Facebook News in Australia on Monday, Thomson said: “The agreement with Facebook is a landmark in transforming the terms of trade for journalism, and will have a material and meaningful impact on our Australian news businesses.

“Mark Zuckerberg and his team deserve credit for their role in helping to fashion a future for journalism, which has been under extreme duress for more than a decade.

“Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch led a global debate while others in our industry were silent or supine as digital dysfunctionality threatened to turn journalism into a mendicant order.

“We are grateful to the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Rod Sims and his team for taking a principled stand for publishers, small and large, rural and urban, and for Australia.

“This digital denouement has been more than a decade in the making.”

Facebook’s vice president for global news partnerships Campbell Brown said: “We’re glad to have this deal in place and look forward to bringing Facebook News to Australia.”

Photo credit: Reuters:/Stefan Wermuth 

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