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Australia’s independent news publishers go on strike to send Facebook a message

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 21, 2022 | 3 min read

More than 30 of Australia’s small and medium news publishers have come together for a 24-hour news blackout campaign to demand a fair deal from Meta, owner of Facebook.

The publishers, which include Broadsheet, Concrete Playground, Urban List, City Hub, Star Observer, Australian Jewish News and Australian Chinese Daily, will freeze their news feeds for the day and replace them with a direct message for Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta.

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The campaign, called #WaitingOnZuck, encourages Australians to email federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg

The campaign, called #WaitingOnZuck, encourages Australians to email federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg and let him know that Zuckerberg “will continue to erode the Australian news media landscape without greater accountability for Facebook to negotiate with independent publishers.”

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Australia passed its News Media Bargaining Code a year ago, where under the code the digital platforms are legislated into commercial negotiations with local media companies.

However, the code leaves out small and medium news publishers, and while it requires designated tech platforms to strike commercial deals with Australian publishers, Facebook and Google have not been designated.

“The unintended consequence of how this code has been handled is that independent publishers face unprecedented competition from our publishing colleagues who have struck deals. With millions and millions of dollars now being spent on talent, marketing, technology and audience acquisition, independents are finding it impossible to compete,” said Nick Shelton, founder and publisher of Broadsheet Media.

“Facebook and Google can pick the winners and losers in Australian media, which is something the Australian public should be very worried about. The only way for independent media to survive is to designate the platforms.”

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