Facebook news ban: statement from the sector

February 18, 2021

Today we joined other community broadcasting sector organisations to issue the following statement in response to Facebook’s announcement yesterday to restrict publishers and citizens from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.

Community broadcasting sector’s news disproportionately impacted by Facebook’s decision

Facebook’s decision to block the sharing of news content on its platform has significantly impacted hundreds of community broadcasters, whose pages are now blank – including First Nations media organisations, faith-based, regional and multicultural broadcasters.

We call for the immediate reinstatement of community broadcasting organisations’ Facebook pages, which were blocked overnight in response to the Government’s proposed Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code.

Community broadcasting represents underrepresented voices, champions marginal communities, shares local and regional news and connects communities. The community broadcasting sector is deeply disappointed about this decision and its ramifications.

Community broadcasting is deeply embedded within local communities. It is essential to serving their needs and the public interest. Like other media, community broadcasting has been heavily impacted by digital disruption.

Facebook has become one of the ways audiences find and engage with their local media and communities. In censoring these local voices, Facebook is proving that monopoly power, and highly concentrated media ownership, will always act first in their own interest, and not for the broader public interest.

We call on Facebook to negotiate in good faith with news media companies and the Federal Government, as others like Google have done.

We feel greatly for our sector’s staff and thousands of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to increase the diversity of news reaching Australians by building a Facebook following and tracking their engagement.

The community media sector is a significant contributor to the diversity of news content available to the Australian public. The contribution of news content relevant to vulnerable and culturally diverse communities has a significant role in influencing conversations within broader audiences and other media. In our communities, the silencing of representative news is damaging and traumatising.

“In a time of disinformation, we are very concerned about Facebook’s decision and fear the impact it will have on our communities – making it even harder for audiences to receive timely health and emergency information in their own languages and in a culturally appropriate way.”

– Jon Bisset, Community Broadcasting Association of Australia’s CEO.

The community broadcasting sector submitted to the Australian Government that not-for-profit community broadcasters be specifically included in the Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code, ensuring fair consideration and compensation for news production. We have not been specifically included, and yet, are significantly impacted by Facebook’s removal of community media news.

The sector continues to seek Government reform that fairly treats and invests in diverse creators of public interest journalism, including smaller media organisations and community broadcasters. We also call on the government to seek an immediate resolution with Facebook.

This decision by Facebook disproportionately impacts small organisations and suppresses the voices of those that need access to the national dialogue the most.

This statement was endorsed by members of the community Broadcasting Sector Roundtable: Australian Community Television Alliance, Christian Media & Arts Australia, First Nations Media Australia, Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, Community Broadcasting Foundation, RPH Australia, The National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council.

Stay Informed