SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA) – Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg reached out to Australian lawmakers last week in regard to the new media rules that would make internet giants pay news outlets for content. However, he failed to persuade them to change policy, the country’s Treasurer said on Sunday.
Zuckerberg “reached out to talk about the code and the impact on Facebook” and a constructive discussion followed last week between the social media billionaire, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher.
“No, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t convince me to back down if that’s what you’re asking,” Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
A Facebook spokeswoman in Australia said “We’re actively engaging with the Australian government with the goal of landing on a workable framework to support Australia’s news ecosystem.”
Australia intends to introduce a law that would force Facebook and internet giant Google Inc to negotiate payments to media companies whose content brings in traffic to their websites. If the parties cannot agree on payments, a government-appointed arbitrator will set the fees for them.
Facebook and Google had mounted public campaigns against the “News Media Bargaining Code”. Google has threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia while Facebook has warned it would stop Australians sharing news content on its site if the laws go ahead.
At a Senate inquiry into the planned law this month, local heads of both companies outlined their opposition to the plans, which would be among the toughest in the world in dealing with the financial impact of global internet companies on domestic media, which have been hit by shrinking advertising revenue.
“We’re told that if we go ahead with this, we’re going to break the internet,” Frydenberg said on the ABC.
“What I do know is that media businesses should be paid for content.”