A photo shows the Meta group's logo 
A photo shows the Meta group's logo (File Photo | AFP)

Facebook parent Meta to stop deals funding Australian journalism

The decision had been on the cards but will come as a hammer blow for Australian news outlets already struggling to stay afloat.

SYDNEY: Facebook parent Meta announced Friday it would no longer pay Australian media companies for news, prompting a government warning that the firm was in "dereliction" of past promises.

Extending a global retreat from news content, Meta said it would scrap the Facebook News tab in Australia and would not renew deals with news publishers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"People don't come to Facebook for news and political content," the firm said, explaining the move.

The decision had been on the cards but will come as a hammer blow for Australian news outlets already struggling to stay afloat.

Meta had previously announced it would not renew content deals with news publishers in the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

The social media giant had been pushed into paying for news by governments hoping to level the media playing field and support struggling news firms.

Media companies around the world have seen a decline in revenues for years, with advertisers flocking to popular digital platforms like Google and Facebook to reach consumers.

Three years ago, Meta's promise to pay news outlets prompted the Australian government to water down legislation governing online platforms and their relationships with the news media.

On Friday, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland expressed anger at Meta's announcement and suggested the government may take retaliatory measures.

"Meta's decision to no longer pay for news content in a number of jurisdictions represents a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media," Rowland said.

"The decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses. Australian news publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide."

Rowland said the government would "work through all available options" to address the issue, in consultation with the country's communications regulator.

The government was "committed to promoting a strong, sustainable and diverse media sector given its vital importance to our democracy and social cohesion", she said.

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