After an acrimonious start, the Federal government’s News Media Bargaining Code, the controversial plan to make internet giants Google and Facebook pay for content from local publishers, has finally borne fruit. Nine Media announced today that it has formalised deals with the online advertising titans.

The exact financial details of the agreements remain commercial in confidence, but in a letter to the ASX, Nine wrote that the deal with Facebook will run for three years while the deal with Google is planned to run over five. Facebook’s deal includes an agreed minimum fee, while Google has a fixed annual rate.

In both cases, the agreements allow Google and Facebook access to Nine Media’s news assets — though Google will not have access to video. Google also agrees to “expand its marketing initiatives across Nine’s platforms”. The same letter notes that Nine’s previous agreement regarding programmatic advertising with Nine terminated on 1 March, but indicates that the company still expects net growth in the Publishing Division of between $30 and $40 million in the year ahead.

In a letter to employees, obtained by Which-50, Nine CEO Mike Sneesby described the two deals as “significant” and wrote that they would position Nine to evolve “to a world where the majority of our revenue is digitally led”.

When the News Media Bargaining Code was announced last year, it was met with outcry from both Google and Facebook as well as criticism from numerous industry observers. Google threatened to remove its dominant search services from Australia, while Facebook took the nuclear option and stopped Australian users from sharing news stories. Neither tactic gained much sympathy for Google or Facebook, but did serve to bring the issue to front-of-mind for many users who had been unaware there was a problem.

The issue of overseas digital giants ad revenue from local publishers remains a vexed one, and no doubt more will change in the years ahead. However, these deals at least indicate that very big publishers can reach agreements. 

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