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The decision by Facebook and Instagram owner Meta not to renew its news contracts with local publishers could have profound implications for regional community newspapers.

Printed regional and community newspapers: Under threat
Printed regional and community newspapers: Under threat

Meta signed a $200m deal with Australian newspaper publishers three years ago to run their content, but now says it will not be renewing that deal when it comes up later in the year.

The loss will be felt among the major metro newspaper publishers Nine, Seven West and News, who have already begun shedding large numbers of staff, but it could spell the end for many small printed local newspapers.

The community newspaper sector has already been in steep decline since Covid, with in excess of 100 local printed newspapers lost forever. Now dozens more printed local papers could join them. Already the 126-year-old Broken Hill newspaper Barrier Daily Truth has closed its doors, with the threat of no Meta money meaning it could not carry a $176,000 debt.

News publishers could still publish news on their own Facebook pages, but Facebook will take down its News tab, and will not pay for news. Facebook says only three per cent of its users access news, a figure Lucie Peart, president of Country Press NSW, said, “is impossible to believe”.

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