Further to our previous article, Facebook announced that it is restoring news on Facebook in Australia, following Facebook discussions with the Australian government. Facebook’s decision was informed by the government clarifying that Facebook “will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook”. The announcement indicates Facebook was concerned with being automatically subject to “a forced negotiation”. While Facebook states it intends to support journalism around the world, and “invest in news globally”, it signals it may continue to resist regulatory frameworks, and minimally “efforts by media conglomerates” that do not, in Facebook’s view, take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms.
In other news, Google has continued to ink multimillion dollar deals to pay media corporations for their news content. Over the past week, Google reportedly reached a deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation agreeing to make ‘significant’ payments for content across its media empire. The company owns The Sun, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Australian, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post among other publications. This is part of Google’s news initiative, where on October 1, 2020, it announced a $1 billion investment in partnership with news publishers. The financial commitment pays publishers for content Google News Showcase programme, which is new Google product that showcases editorial curation of news content from participating publishers. Google states that it has signed partnerships for News Showcase with nearly 200 leading publications which include Canada, in addition to Germany, Brazil, Argentina, the UK and Australia. It is reported that Canadian media houses such as Narcity and Village Media also signed on to Google’s News Showcase programme.
It will be interesting to see what position Facebook and other platforms may take to Canadian regulatory frameworks on the issue. For example, while Bill S-225 proposes a right of remuneration for reproducing or publishing a substantial part of a journalistic work on designated digital platforms, it proposes an exemption for hyperlinking to a journalistic work. The digital platforms providers would be designated by order.