Meta to shut down Facebook News, cut commercial deals with Australian media

Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, has announced it will shut down Facebook News in Australia from next month, in an “ongoing effort to better align [their] investments”.

The company informed publishers on Friday that it would not enter new commercial deals after the current contracts expire later this year.

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

Meta confirmed the proposed plans in a statement online, justifying the decision by saying it has seen an 80% drop in Facebook News users in Australia and the US, and “people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content”.

It assured that the changes will not impact current contracts, or other Meta products and services.

“People will still be able to view links to news articles on Facebook,” the statement reads.

“News publishers will continue to have access to their Facebook accounts and pages, where they can post links to their stories and direct people to their websites, in the same way any other individual or organization can. News organizations can also still leverage products like reels and our ads system to reach broader audiences and drive people to their website, where they keep 100% of the revenue derived from outbound links on Facebook.

“…To ensure that we continue to invest in products and services that drive user engagement, we will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”

Meta previously signed contracts with Australian media companies, including Seven West Media, News Corp Australia, and Nine Entertainment, under the News Media Bargaining Code, which saw the media giant pay for the news content it uses.

Nine’s CEO, Mike Sneesby, said Meta’s decision does not recognise the “significant and increasing value of Nine’s journalist, unique content and brands to its platforms”.

“We believe the News Media Bargaining Code provides an appropriate framework for a fair value exchange between companies,” he said. “Regardless of the Meta announcement today, the value created on their platform from the use of Nine’s IP is both unquestionable and growing and we strongly believe Meta should negotiate in good faith around the fair compensation for that value exchange.

“We will continue to robustly advocate that these deals are in the national interest and the arguments that led to the code in the first place remain as strong as ever,” Sneesby added.

James Warburton, CEO and MD at Seven West Media, said: “Meta needs to be designated. 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.”

Mumbrella has contacted Communications Minister Michelle Rowland for comment.


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