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Facebook gives Australian Media Cold Shoulder, Victory May Be Premature

Last month, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg granted concessions to Mark Zuckerberg on the federal government’s media bargaining code that helped restore Facebook’s services in Australia.

Frydenberg had seemingly solved the problem. But among senior news executives at Nine and News, there is a growing feeling the Treasurer overly generous with concessions to Zuckerberg and let the billionaire off lightly.

It appears that Facebook has gone cool on negotiating with major media companies in Australia.

Nine and News Corp have both experienced the ‘left on read’ treatment from Zuckerberg and his people at Facebook, with both Australian media giants struggling to pin down the social media platform for commercial deals.

Local news media executives are growing frustrated and cynical about Facebook’s intent to bargain in good faith.

Senior news media executives say commercial negotiations are further behind than before Facebook shut down news, medical, government other community online pages in response to Australia’s unique media bargaining code.

Frydenberg is now faced with a big call: whether to designate Facebook’s News Feed as a regulated platform under the media bargaining code.

If the stalemate between Facebook and major news publishers continues, Frydenberg’s decision risks either annoying mainstream news organisations or again pitting him against Zuckerberg.

Under the compromise reached with Zuckerberg, a decision to designate a digital platform must account for whether that platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements.

Local media players are eager for Frydenberg to designate Facebook so that it’s forced to negotiate in better faith.

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