Facebook said Tuesday it will launch its news tab feature in Britain from next year, paying publishers for stories delivered through the world’s leading social network.

The arrival of Facebook News in January comes after the service was rolled out in the United States in late 2019 and is part of plans to extend it worldwide, the US company said.

“With Facebook News, we will pay publishers for content that is not already on the platform, help drive new audiences, and bring publishers greater monetisation opportunities,” it added. 

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Titles covered in the first wave of deals include The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent and the Mirror, and local newspapers the London Evening Standard, Manchester Evening News and the Scotsman.

Lifestyle magazines such as Cosmopolitan, GQ, Vogue and Tatler have also signed up, while there is a video partnership with Channel 4 News.

Facebook’s director of news partnerships Jesper Doub said the company was “in active negotiations” to bring the feature to France and Germany.

“We will continue to work with publishers in countries where market conditions and regulatory environments invite this kind of investment and innovation,” he added.

Media companies have struggled with dwindling advertising revenue and print sales as content has moved online and become available for free, forcing a host of titles to close.

In April, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the coronavirus pandemic has made the situation worse and called on the British government to impose a windfall tax on global tech giants to help shore up struggling publishers.

NUJ assistant general secretary Seamus Dooley said foreign-based platforms including Facebook generate huge ad revenues in Britain on the back of free news content but pay little domestic tax.

“There’s very much common cause between employers and owners that effectively these are platform providers that are eating our lunch,” he told AFP.

“They’re reliant on the work of media organisations — of journalists, photographers and videographers.”

Last week, Google said it had signed individual agreements on copyright payments with several French newspapers and magazines, after months of wrangling over the sharing of revenues from the display of news in search results.

Agence France-Presse, which along with other media groups has lodged complaints against Google with France’s competition regulator, did not sign the accord.

But AFP chief executive Fabrice Fries said he was “optimistic” about improved relations with Google, Facebook and Apple, which also sells a news feature.


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