News Corp and Facebook reach news payment deal, Nine signs letter of intent

News Corp has become the biggest outlet to secure a deal with Facebook, under which the news business will be paid to provide content to the platform’s Facebook News product in Australia.

Mumbrella understands Nine Entertainment Co has also signed a letter of intent with the social media business, but it would not comment, only confirming that it continues to have “constructive and fruitful discussions with Facebook”.

“When we have anything to announce we will do so to the ASX, as is appropriate,” a spokesperson continued, mirroring Nine’s approach to its Google letter of intent, which the business has still not formally announced.

News Corp’s three-year deal flags a commitment from the tech company to launch Facebook News in Australia – after a tumultuous period during which it yanked down local news only to reinstate it several days later – and follows deals with Seven West Media, Private Media, Schwartz Media and Solstice Media.

The agreement stretches across News Corp’s mastheads, including The Australian,, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, Courier Mail, and regional titles. Separately, the company’s Sky News Australia secured a separate contract with Facebook, which “extends and significantly builds on an existing arrangement”.

“We are committed to bringing Facebook News to Australia,” confirmed Andrew Hunter, the local region’s head of news partnerships at Facebook.

“Together, the agreements with News Corp Australia and Sky News Australia mean that people on Facebook will gain access to premium news articles and breaking news video from News Corp’s network of national, metropolitan, rural and suburban newsrooms.”

News Corp also has news payment deals with Google and Apple. As the News Media Bargaining Code was debated in the senate and ultimately passed into law, Google was far quicker than Facebook to lock in a flurry of agreements with local media companies. A number of industry heavyweights, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s chair Rod Sims, have noted that this was due to the deals’ complexity, and Google’s progression. Neither Google nor Facebook has cemented a deal with the ABC, one of the top three employers of journalists in the country (in addition to News Corp and Nine).

Sims appeared as part of the media diversity inquiry on Friday, telling senators he was happy to give Facebook more time to finalise “pretty hectic” and “rugged” negotiations with mastheads. The situation advanced quickly since then, with Nine and News Corp titles reporting yesterday that both businesses were very close to clinching deals with the social media giant.

Facebook’s Hunter

News Corp announced its arrangements this morning, which it said follows an October 2019 US agreement involving American News Corp titles receiving payment in exchange for Facebook News hosting its stories.

The business’ chief executive, Robert Thomson, said: “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.

“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,” Thomson added.

“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.”

The media diversity inquiry at which Sims appeared last week was sparked after former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd campaigned for a Royal Commission into News Corp’s market dominance and journalistic practices. Rudd, News Corp, and a host of other industry players have already given evidence to senators, and the inquiry will resume next month.

On News Corp’s alleged market dominance, Sims noted that the ACCC would have rejected a bid from News Corp to buy Fairfax before the Nine merger was locked in, or an offer for Ten. However, he defended the ACCC’s approval of the company’s acquisition of APN, after which News Corp shuttered many of the newspapers.


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