Facebook News set for UK launch in January as giants starts to pay for news

Facebook News is to launch in the UK in January, with publishers being paid for content which appears in the new service, the company announced this morning

The company described the launch as a ‘substantial investment focused on journalism in the UK’, saying Facebook News was ‘a dedicated space for national and local news.’

It is believed most publishers in the UK have signed up to be part of Facebook News, and will be paid for content that is not already on the platform.

Facebook says News will help drive new audiences, and bring publishers greater monetisation opportunities.

Facebook News offers a mix of curated and personalised top stories to deliver informative, reliable and relevant news, said Facebook.

Readers see the top headlines and stories of the day, some of which are curated by Facebook, alongside news personalised to their interests.

The company says that during ‘major news cycles,’ Facebook News provides timely news digests, highlighting original and authoritative reporting on pressing topics.

Facebook News will also help people discover new topics and stories based on the news they read, share and follow.

The UK launch in January will build on the success Facebook News has seen in the USA. Data from Facebook concludes that 95% of the traffic Facebook News delivers to publishers is new audiences that have not interacted with those news outlets in the past.

It is separate to the regular news feed of activity people use on Facebook, which drives large volumes of visitors to UK news sites. The company says Facebook News is designed for people who specifically want to look at news, and will not result in changes to the amount of news which appears in the main feed.

Facebook has also signed a new video partnership deal with Channel 4 News. This means journalism from one of the UK’s leading public service broadcasters will also be eligible to appear in Facebook News. The new agreement is in addition to the existing commercial partnership to produce the Facebook Watch commissioned show ‘Uncovered’.

A Facebook statement this morning said: “Facebook is deeply committed to supporting news organisations as they adapt to the changing digital world and we are delighted to have so many partners working with us at this early stage.

“We’re in active negotiations to bring Facebook News to France and Germany as well, and we will continue to work with publishers in countries where market conditions and regulatory environments invite this kind of investment and innovation.”

David Higgerson, Chief Audience Officer at Reach PLC, said: “We welcome the introduction of the Facebook News Tab in the UK as a sign of Facebook’s commitment to ensuring that accurate, well-researched journalism is given prominence on its platform”.

Zach Leonard, Chief Executive, The Independent, said: “Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at The Independent, from moving to digital-only in 2016, to becoming Britain’s largest quality digital news brand, with an average monthly global audience of 101m unique browsers. We are delighted to extend The Independent’s longstanding strategic partnership with Facebook through the UK launch of Facebook News, helping to bring high-quality and trustworthy news to its UK users.”

Bobby Hain, Managing Director, Broadcast at STV said: “STV News is one of the most trusted sources of news in Scotland. Millions of Scots rely on our programmes and digital platforms to keep them up-to-date and informed. We are delighted to be a launch partner for Facebook News and to be delivering relevant, reliable and engaging Scottish content to users of this innovative new service.”

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The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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