‘Meta is attempting to mislead Australians’: Media bosses, Free TV Australia respond to Meta

Free TV Australia has responded to Meta’s announcement that it will not be renewing any commercial deals with Australian media companies, saying the media giant should be met with swift action by the Australian Government.

Earlier on Friday, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, announced it will shut down Facebook News in Australia from next month, in an “ongoing effort to better align [their] investments”, as well as not continue contracts under the News Media Bargaining Code.

Free TV’s CEO, Bridget Fair, said the announcement is disappointing, but unsurprising.

“We call on the Government to immediately designate all Meta platforms – Facebook, Instagram and reels – under the News Media Bargaining Code, and require it to pay a fair price for the news content shared widely on its platforms,” she said.

“Meta does not employ any Australians to produce news but captures significant value from the sharing of trusted news content as part of its service offering. There has never been a more important time for news media businesses to receive fair remuneration for their trusted news content that is relied upon by all Australians. The ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry Report laid bare the unprecedented levels of market dominance by Facebook and the importance for sustainable local news providers of being fairly remunerated for their content on these platforms.

“The News Media Bargaining Code legislation already gives the Government the power to act on this important issue and it should do by designating Facebook without delay.”

Leaders of major Australian publishers have also responded to Meta, also calling for the Government to designate the media giant.

In a statement given to Mumbrella on Friday afternoon, News Corp Australasia executive chairman, Michael Miller, slammed Meta’s decision.

“Meta is using its immense market power to refuse to negotiate, and the government is right to explore every option for how the Media Bargaining Code’s powers can be used,” he said.

“Meta is attempting to mislead Australians by saying its decision is about the closure of its news tab product, however the vast majority of news on Facebook and Meta is and will continue to be consumed outside this product.

“Meta’s decision will directly impact the viability of Australia’s many small and regional publishers and this is a pressing issue for the government to confront.

“We will work in any way we can to assist the processes the government is putting in place.”

James Warburton, CEO and MD at Seven West Media, added: “The case has not only been made but proven and we welcome Ministers Jones and Rowland’s commitment to the News Media Bargaining Code. We will work constructively with the ACCC and Treasury to ensure their designation.”

Nine Entertainment’s CEO, Mike Sneesby, said the News Media Bargaining Code provides an “appropriate framework” for a fair value exchange, and called on Meta to “negotiate in good faith around the fair compensation for that value exchange”.


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