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Facebook restores Australian news pages after amending media laws

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Josh Friedenberg said on Tuesday that Facebook would bring back Australian news pages after Canberra offered amendments to a proposed law aimed at forcing tech giants to pay for the media content shown on their platforms.

Australia and the social media group have been in confrontation for more than a week after the government introduced legislation challenging Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s dominance over Google in the news content market.

Facebook last week blocked all news content and many state government and emergency department accounts.

But after a series of conversations between Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the weekend, a franchise deal was sealed.

Australia will introduce four amendments, including a change in the mandatory arbitration mechanism used when tech giants are unable to strike a deal with publishers on fair payment to display news content.

“We are satisfied with the Australian government’s approval of a number of changes and safeguards that address our core concerns about permitting business deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers compared to the value we receive from them,” Facebook said in a statement. Posted on the Internet.

The amendments include a two-month mediation period before the government-appointed arbitrator intervenes, giving the parties more time to reach a private deal.

It also introduces a rule that the Internet company’s contribution to “the sustainability of the Australian news industry” through existing deals is taken into account.

The issue has been widely watched internationally as other countries including Canada and Britain are considering similar legislation.

“These amendments will provide more clarity for digital platforms and news media companies about the way in which the code aims to work and strengthen the framework for ensuring that news media companies receive a fair remuneration,” Freidenberg said in a statement.

Australia said it had, as of Monday, not to make any further changes to the law.

A spokesman for Australian publisher and broadcaster Nine Entertainment Co welcomed the government settlement, which it said had brought “Facebook back into negotiations with Australian media organizations.”

A Google spokesman declined to comment.

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the principal architect of the law, was not immediately available for comment.

In a speech earlier on Tuesday, Sims refused to answer questions about the standoff on the grounds that it was before Parliament.

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