Three Australian independent publishers have signed letters of intent with Facebook, likely to lead to deals for licencing their content to the tech giant.

Facebook today announced it has signed letters of intent with three independent Australian publishers: Private Media, Schwartz Media and Solstice Media. 

Private media publishes Crikey, The Mandarin and Smart Company. Schwartz Media publishes The Saturday Paper, The Monthly as well as the Quarterly Essay and the Australian Foreign Affairs Journal. Solstice Media’s news titles include The New Daily and several state-based publications.

The commercial agreements with Facebook are subject to the signing full agreement within the next 60 days.  Further details about the deals have not been announced.

Facebook had held off signing commercial agreements with Australian publishers until it had assurances from the government its News Media Bargaining Code legislation would be amended in the tech giant’s favour.

The changes give more scope for Facebook to avoid the code altogether that would force it into revenue sharing arrangements. Amendments also lessened the chance Facebook would be subject to the potential forced arbitration it has fiercely opposed since the media laws were proposed last year.

Facebook has said it is also willing to remove news content from Australian users again to avoid the code altogether if necessary.

With the concessions in place, Facebook has moved to sign large commercial publishers up to its own news product. Today it announced it has also signed up three leading independent publishers.

“We have collaborated with Facebook in the past and we look forward to the ways in which this deal will help us to continue producing Australia’s leading independent journalism,” said Rebecca Costello, CEO of Schwartz Media in a Facebook statement.

“It’s never been more important than it is now to have a plurality of voices in the Australian press.” 

Will Hayward CEO, Private Media added. “We are excited to grow our existing partnership with Facebook; this new round of support will help fund independent journalism in Australia, as well as bring our reporting to new and diverse audiences on Facebook.”

Google has also signed several independent publications up to its preferred model of paying for news, Google News Showcase. 

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