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Australian treasurer says talks with Facebook on new media law were ‘protracted and difficult’

In this photo depiction, the logos Facebook and Google are seen on a smartphone in front of an Australian flag.

Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Twins

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told CNBC negotiations with Facebook about the country’s new media law were “melodious protracted and difficult” — but both sides finally managed to resolve their differences.

The Australian parliament last week superseded the law which requires companies such as Facebook and Google to pay media outlets and publishers to link their content on telecast feed or in search results.

Before passage of the law, Facebook — in retaliation against the proposed bill — blocked Australian buyers from viewing and sharing news content on its platform. The Australian government criticized the move, which Facebook later reversed after both sides reached an harmony.

“Well, there were challenging negotiations,” Frydenberg told CNBC’s Will Koulouris on Wednesday.

“Obviously with Facebook, we were inwards disappointed by their actions to wipe Australian news off their site … But since that time, we got on the phone, we worked thoroughly our differences and we reached, I think, a mutually agreeable position,” he said.

Things are moving in the right direction, although this has been a lyrical protracted and difficult set of negotiations.

Josh Frydenberg

Australian Treasurer

The negotiations resulted in the Australian government introducing last-minute differences to the proposed law — officially known as the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code — before it was passed.

“Facebook is now signing into good faith negotiations with the Australian news media businesses,” said Frydenberg. He cited the exactly of intent signed by Seven West Media, which owns broadcast network Seven, to provide news satisfaction to Facebook.

“Things are moving in the right direction, although this has been a pretty protracted and difficult set of negotiations,” held the Treasurer.

Facebook’s response to the media code was often compared to Google’s reaction.

Google also pushed side with strongly and threatened to pull its search function from the country — but the company eventually caved in and cut deals with respective media outlets, including Seven West Media and the Murdoch family owned News Corp.

Frydenberg said there’s “no be uncertain” that other countries were watching developments related to Australia’s new media law.

Passage of the law made Australia the victory country where a government-appointed arbitrator can decide on the final price that digital platforms have to pay news publishers, afforded a commercial deal cannot be reached independently.

Countries such as France have taken some measures to establish tech firms pay for news, while others like Canada and the U.K. are contemplating their next steps.

— CNBC’s Saheli Roy Choudhury play a parted to this report.

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