Google and Facebook have almost agreed to a commercial deal that will make them pay to Australian media houses for news, a minister said. The development comes close on the heels of the Australian government’s world-first laws that will make big digital companies pay for taking news from local media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that they are very close to some very important commercial deals. He said this after a meeting with chief executive officers of Google and Facebook. Frydenberg held a meeting with Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai over the weekend. “We are making very good progress,” he said in the transcript sent by his office.
“Within two to three days, we are likely to have commercial deals that would be really beneficial for the local media houses. It will reward journalists for generating original content. This would be a world-leading reform.” The announcement holds significance as both the companies had opposed the proposed legislation of Australia. Alphabet Inc-owned Google even threatened to shut down its services if the law in enforced. Parliament is supposed to discuss the legislation from this week. Without stating anything specific, Facebook said that it has engaged with the government to discuss concerns regarding the legislation. The search engine giant has refused to comment on the development.
It would not be a big deal for digital giants to pay Australian media houses for the news they link to. But they are concerned that it will set a precedent and that could be a cause of worry for them. Google is already facing pressure from authorities of other countries to pay for news. It signed a deal with a group of French publishers last month. This will make them pay for digital copyright payments. A fortnight ago, Google had announced that started paying some news websites in Australia under its own model. Google has proposed that it will pay media houses of curated content rather than be forced to do so by the legislation.