Google and Facebook will pay the taxpayer-funded ABC to use its news content on their websites after the national broadcaster became the latest media organisation to strike deals with the tech giants.
In an appearance at a Senate estimates hearing, managing director David Anderson also revealed that ABC lawyer Sebastian Maury had resigned over tweets dating back to 2019 calling Prime Minister Scott Morrison “fascist” and an “awful human being”.
Mr Anderson used his opening statement to announce the ABC had signed letters of intent with Google and Facebook for the payment for the use of its news content, in line with the news media bargaining code legislated earlier this year.
“When these commercial deals are concluded, they will enable the ABC to make new and significant investments in regional services,” he told the hearing on Wednesday.
Mr Anderson said he could not discuss the quantum of the payment underpinning the deals, which still need to be formalised, but said he suspected the value would be lower than the deals brokered by commercial media outlets.
The federal government’s news media bargaining code was legislated in February in an effort to force Google and Facebook into commercial talks with large and small news media companies for use of articles in the search engine and “newsfeed”. Under the laws, the tech giants can be slapped with financial penalties for failing to comply. However, in a major concession the government decided against formally “designating” the laws as applicable to the tech giants on the proviso they began brokering payment deals.
Nine Entertainment Co (publisher of this masthead) has also signed a letter of intent with the tech companies while News Corp and Seven West Media have finalised their deals, as have some smaller publishers including Solstice Media (publisher of New Daily), Private Media (owner of Crikey) and Schwartz Media (owner of The Saturday Paper).
Mr Anderson also said Mr Maury, who provided legal advice on a recent Four Corners episode on the Morrison government’s handling of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations, opted to resign at the conclusion of an internal code of conduct investigation into his social media activity.
“We got to the end of that process and Mr Maury resigned. He no longer works at the ABC,” Mr Anderson told estimates on Wednesday.
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