Facebook 'investing' with Seven as news content restarts

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Kerry Stokes' Seven West Media has signed a preliminary agreement with Facebook, making it the first media company to do so since the social media giant restarted news content on its site yesterday.

Its partnership comes in the form of a letter of intent, subject to signing of a long-form agreement, expected in the next 60 days.

Despite the remarks of Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the mutual "refriending" does not require Zuckerberg's rogue company to collectively bargain with news companies or be forced into negotiations. Curiously, Facebook is to get notice of proposed changes, something it didn't afford Australian users last week.

Reports say total traffic to Australian news sites from within Australia was down 13 per cent during the stand-off - while that from outside was down 30 per cent - suggesting that local news media companies could have learned to live without the untrustworthy partner Facebook had shown itself to be. The deal with the Morrison government appears to favour large media companies without providing much for smaller ones.

Meanwhile at Seven, Stokes said its agreements with Facebook and Google would enable it to continue to build its digital platform. He paid tribute to the "leadership and vision" of Scott Morrison, Rod Sims, Josh Frydenberg and Paul Fletcher.

Managing director and chief executive James Warburton said both agreements were "a significant step forward for Australian news media and are a clear acknowledgement by all parties of the value and importance of original news content".

Facebook's ANZ managing director Will Easton said they were "pleased to confirm our investment... with our partners from Seven West Media", adding that Facebook had "always been committed to supporting journalism".

• In Europe, four publishers' associations have agreed to work with Microsoft towards an Australian-style regulation system over platforms covered by the EU copyright directive.

The European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, European Newspaper Publishers' Association and European Magazine Media Association say they will work to develop proposals for a "healthy and diverse" online news media ecosystem. Microsoft has already said its Bing search engine would share revenue with publishers as required.

Peter Coleman

Pictured: Kerry Stokes (right) with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison (picture Seven West Media)

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