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Google and Facebook reportedly "very close" to first deals ever to pay for news content

Google and Facebook are "very close" to deals with major Australian media to pay for news, a top government official said Monday, as the tech giants scramble to avoid landmark regulation, according to AFP.  

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai had made "great progress" in resolving a standoff being closely watched around the world, the news agency reported. Australia is poised to adopt legislation that would force digital companies to pay for news content, something that would create a global precedent and, according to Facebook and Google, wreck the way the internet works. 

The companies have threatened to partially withdraw services from the country if the rules become law, sparking a war of words with government officials in Canberra. But that disagreement appeared to ease Monday, with Frydenberg telling Australian public broadcaster ABC that talks with the companies "made great progress over the course of the weekend."

Seven West Media has become the largest Australian news media business to strike a deal with Google to pay for journalism. Google and the publicly listed broadcast television, print and online publishing company announced their partnership a day before Parliament is scheduled to consider draft laws that would force the digital giant and Facebook to pay for Australian news. 

The announcement also follows weekend discussions between Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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