Facebook agrees to pay to 170 Australian newspapers

Photo: AP

The social network conglomerate agreed to provide financing for setting an innovation fund in Australia as part of a licensing deal with local media, Reuters reported. Under the agreement some 170 local Australian newspapers are set to receive cash from the giant. That brings closer series of agreements announced by Facebook in Australia since the country legislated to make it and Google negotiate content payments to media outlets amid clearb threats of government arbitration.

Since the legislation was enforced in February, leading news providers like News Corp and others have signed deals or letters of intent with the Big Tech players.

The deal planned by Country Press Australia (CPA) and the tech giant would bring Facebook money closer to papers like The Bunyip, circulation 8,750, and Gympie Today, circulation 4,000, since they are among the 170 outlets represented. Exact terms of the deal including time frame, the amount of cash and how it will be divided or spent were not elaborated in a joint statement from CPA and Facebook. The statement however noted that the parties had signed a letter of intent to strike a deal only.

"This funding support will help Country Press Australia's members build their digital businesses and reach new audiences," said Facebook's news partnership lead for Australia and New Zealand, Andrew Hunter. "It's part of our continuing investment in Australian journalism and our collaboration with the news industry to build sustainable business models," he added. CPA President Andrew Manuel said the Facebook funding would "help sustain original public interest journalism in the multitude of regional and local communities" where the body's member newspapers were published.

Before the Australian amendmends to laws were passed, Facebook and Google campaigned against them including a move by Facebook to cut all content from newsfeeds in the country briefly. The US firms have since unveiled numerous deals, although some smaller publishers have said they still have not been able to get to negotiating tables.

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