Deal close for Google and Facebook to pay for news

Google and Facebook are appear close to deals with major Australian media to pay for news as the giants scramble to avoid landmark regulation.

Australia treasurer Josh Frydenberg said yesterday that talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google counterpart Sundar Pichai made “great progress” in resolving a standoff.

Australia is poised to adopt legislation that would force digital companies to pay for news content, creating a global precedent. Facebook and Google had threatened to partially withdraw services from the country if the rules became law.

But that disagreement eased yesterday, with Frydenberg telling broadcaster ABC that talks made “great progress.”

The agreements could be enough to see Facebook and Google avoid the most severe parts of the legislation – including binding arbitration to ensure they are not using their online advertising duopoly to dictate terms to media companies.

Following Frydenberg’s remarks, SevenWest Media, owner of broadcaster 7News and The West Australian newspaper, announced a deal for content to be hosted on Google’s News Showcase.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the first major deal with a large Australian news organization was worth more than A$30 million (HK$180.4 million) a year.

Frydenberg’s comments suggest that major media organizations such as News Corp and Nine Entertainment could be close to similar deals.

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