Mar 2, 2021 - Technology

Aussie news fight goes global

Data: Chartbeat; Chart: Axios Visuals (NOTE: Traffic drops during evening hours.)
Data: Chartbeat; Chart: Axios Visuals (NOTE: Traffic drops during evening hours.)

Traffic to Australian news sites has sprung back after Facebook struck a last-minute deal with lawmakers last week to pay some publishers and resume link-sharing on its platform, according to data from Chartbeat.

The big picture: The news showdown in Australia is advancing conversations globally around a more equitable payout structure between the world's biggest tech firms and news publishers.

Driving the news: Facebook said Monday that its dedicated News Tab product will launch in Germany after months of negotiating with publishers in the region.

Yes, but: The product is launching without the buy-in from Germany's largest digital publisher Axel Springer, which has argued that the financial terms offered by Facebook are too low.

  • The U.K. was the first European country that Facebook struck payment deals with after the EU passed a copyright directive two years ago.
  • France is expected to be the next.

Be smart: Facebook's position is that while traffic matters a lot to local publishers in the News Feed, it doesn't matter enough to them to warrant staying in a country whose rules they find untenable.

  • "The News Feed is different from the Facebook News," Facebook's VP of News Campbell Brown told Axios last week. One of the company's biggest problems with the new Australian law was that it forced Facebook to pay publishers for links in its feed, where it wants to remain void of news, instead of its separate news product.
  • "We're going to negotiate in many markets around the world, but we can only do that if there's a recognition that the value exchange is what it is."

What to watch: What's different about the EU's approach versus Australia's is that the EU is leveraging copyright law, not antitrust policy, to force tech giants like Facebook into brokering deals.

  • In the U.S., lawmakers are considering an array of solutions to force tech giants to pay publishers, including a new antitrust exemption that could allow publishers to collectively bargain with each other.
  • News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern notes that the Aussie law's passage will impact the group's lobbying strategy in the U.S. "We are getting a lot of calls about how to adopt the dispute resolution framework for mandatory negotiations from the code here in the U.S."
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