(Update with comments)
CANBERRA, February 23 (Reuters) – Facebook said on Tuesday it would restore its Australian news page after negotiating changes with the government to a proposed law that forces tech giants to pay for media content displayed on their platforms.
Following are comments from Facebook, Australia and analysts:
JOSH FRYDENBERG, AUSTRALIAN ANNOUNCEMENT
“There is no doubt that Australia has become a proxy battle for the world. I am sure there are many other countries that are looking at what is happening in Australia.
“Facebook and Google are not hiding the fact that they know that the eyes of the world are on Australia, and that’s why they’re trying to come up with a code here that works.”
CAMPBELL BROWN, VICE FACEBOOK PRESIDENT GLOBAL NEWS PARTNERSHIP
“We have reached an agreement that will allow us to support our selected publishers, including small and local publishers.
“The government has clarified that we will maintain the ability to decide whether news appears on Facebook so that we will not automatically submit to forced negotiations.
“We have always intended to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we will continue to invest in news globally and resist attempts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take into account the true exchange of value between publishers and platforms like Facebook. “
TAMA LEAVER, PROFESSOR OF INTERNET STUDY AT CURTIN UNIVERSITY, AUSTRALIA
“This is not a draw.
“Even though Facebook managed to cover up some concessions and the laws might be lenient, I still think they are big losers here just because of the way they tried to negotiate over the past week. Many Australians are much more hesitant to rely on Facebook and in terms of their Australian reputation and user base have lost confidence.
“The law itself is still untested. It is like a weapon sitting on the treasury table that has never been used or tested. “
RICHARD WINDSOR, INDEPENDENT ENGLISH TECHNOLOGY ANALYSIS
“Facebook has scored a big win in reaching an agreement with the Australian government on payment of news from Australian sources in concessions that virtually guarantee that business will run as usual from now on.
“Prior to this“ sudden ”breakthrough, Facebook had cut off all Australian news outlets’ access to its platform which sparked huge public outrage. Critically, Australian news sites have also taken a big hit in internet traffic, clearly showing that Australian media need Facebook more than Facebook.
“Facebook has been accused of acting like North Korea in its actions, but I think they are completely justified because Australia (and everyone else) seems to view Facebook as a free public service rather than a business.
“As news sites quickly realized, their ad revenue tends to be lower without Facebook than with Facebook even if Facebook doesn’t pay them at all for their content.
“This clearly shows that the current arrangement is better than no arrangement at all. This idea of free internet is a classic misconception held by the general public and legislators and the sooner this is eliminated, the faster a proper working relationship can be established. “
PAUL BUDDE, AUSTRALIA BASED INDEPENDENT INTERNET ANALYSIS
“Facebook won, because a necessary change was made to the law that prevented them from making changes to their business model.”
The Australian government can still say that they are “fighting giants and getting international attention (but) the digital giants are as strong as ever.” (Reporting by Colin Packham, Byron Kaye and Douglas Busvine; additional reporting by Renju Jose Editing by Susan Fenton)