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Mark Zuckerberg Called Josh Frydenberg About Plans To Make Facebook Pay For News

“No, Zuckerberg didn't convince me to back down.”
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg reached out to Australian politicians over new media rules.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg reached out to Australian politicians over new media rules.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg called Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg to chat about the rules that would make internet giants pay for news, but failed to talk him down from the plans.

Frydenberg told the ABC’s ‘Insiders’ Zuckerberg “reached out to talk about the code and the impact on Facebook″, and a “constructive discussion” followed last week between the social media billionaire, the treasurer and communications minister Paul Fletcher.

“No, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t convince me to back down,” Frydenberg told the program, adding that the famous CEO was taking the proposed policy change “seriously”.

“It was a very constructive discussion.”

Frydenberg said Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in talks with the CEO and president of Microsoft about potentially expanding its search engine Bing in Australia.

“This is world-leading,” the treasurer quipped.

“Zuckerberg, Frydenberg what’s the difference? Except a few billion dollars I suppose.”

Watch the video below for Frydenberg’s interview:

A Facebook spokeswoman in Australia said the company’s executives regularly meet with government stakeholders on a range of topics.

“We’re actively engaging with the Australian government with the goal of landing on a workable framework to support Australia’s news ecosystem,” she said.

Australia intends to introduce a law that would force big tech companies like Facebook and Google to negotiate payments to media companies whose content drives traffic to their websites. If the parties cannot agree on payments, a government-appointed arbitrator will set the fees for them.

Facebook and Google oppose the “News Media Bargaining Code” and have mounted public campaigns against it. Google has threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia while Facebook has warned it would stop Australians sharing news content on its site if the laws go ahead.

At a Senate inquiry into the planned law this month, local heads of both companies outlined their opposition to the plans, which would be among the toughest in the world in dealing with the financial impact of global internet companies on domestic media, which have been hit by shrinking advertising revenue.

“We’re told that if we go ahead with this, we’re going to break the internet,” Frydenberg said on the ABC.

“What I do know is that media businesses should be paid for content.”

With files from Reuters.

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