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Meta stand at an internet trade fair: Struggle for revenue for news

Photo: Francis Mascarenhas / REUTERS

Facebook parent company Meta no longer wants to conclude new licensing fee agreements with publishers for traditional news in Australia, France and Germany - much to the displeasure of the Australian government.

"Meta's decision to stop paying for news content in a number of countries represents a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australia's news media," Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Deputy Chief Financial Officer Stephen Jones said in a joint statement with.

Meta's decision deprives the largest Australian media companies from News Corp to Australian Broadcasting Corp of an important source of income: They had benefited from a law in place since 2021 that forces Meta and Alphabet's Google to enter into licensing agreements.

News publishers and the government have previously argued that major technology companies such as Facebook and Google unfairly benefit from links to news articles appearing on their platforms.

Meta claims that links to news only make up a fraction of users' feeds and that publishers can still publish news content on their own pages on Facebook.

In addition, according to their own opinion, Meta and Google only ensure access to the media companies' websites, which enables them to generate income through advertising.

After lengthy negotiations, a compromise was reached that led to the founding of Google's News Showcase and Meta's Facebook News - news services in which selected media are paid to provide content - but not all publishers are given equal consideration.

Under Australian law, the country's government must now decide whether to appoint its own intermediary to set Meta's fees as part of a new round of agreements.

The company's contracts with Australian media outlets usually ran for three years and were due to expire in 2024.

Google's media license agreements usually have a term of five years and expire in 2026.

About 22 million of Australia's 26 million people are Facebook users.