Landmark media bargaining code passes the Senate following new Facebook deal

It comes a day after Facebook said it had agreed to restore Australian news pages following a new deal with the federal government.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks at an Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry event at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, February 24, 2021. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Source: AAP

The federal government's landmark media bargaining code has passed the Senate with amendments, a day after .

On Tuesday the social media giant announced it had struck a new deal with the federal government that it said would enable it to reverse its block on publishers and users in Australia from sharing or viewing news content. 

The government's bill, which seeks to make tech giants compensate news publishers, passed the Senate on Wednesday evening and will now head back to the House of Representatives.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday said Facebook's actions in removing news from Australia in response to the media code were "regrettable" and "disappointing". 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair on Wednesday said he was very happy with the code.

"This is a high-stakes game," Rod Sims told parliament's economics committee. "The media bargaining code has already gone a long way in meeting its objective."

Mr Sims said it was "absolutely fine" commercial deals were done before the code was passed.

"The whole point of the code is to promote journalism," he said. "This is a matter of the whole world watching, we'll certainly be watching, and we want journalism to benefit from the code." 

Labor says the code is an important step but is just one of a suite of measures recommended by the competition watchdog after the 2019 digital platforms inquiry.

"The government has a lot more to do to support public-interest journalism in Australia," Labor's communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said.

With AAP.

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3 min read
Published 24 February 2021 at 7:42pm