Meta’s decision to abandon any new deals with Australian media companies for the use of their content is a “dereliction” of its previous commitments, with the federal government now considering whether to step in and force the tech giant to the negotiation table.

In a blog post on Friday, Facebook parent company Meta revealed it would be shuttering the Facebook News feature on its platform and not entering into any new commercial deals with Australian publishers after existing ones come to an end midway through this year.

“We will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future,” the Meta blog post said.

“This is part of an ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most.”

The decision will represent a $70 million annual loss for the Australian media industry and will heap pressure on the federal government to implement its News Media Bargaining Code and designate Meta, meaning it would be forced to enter arbitration on these revenue-sharing deals.

The tech giant’s move was slammed by Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones and Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.

“Meta’s decision to no longer pay for news content in a number of jurisdictions represents a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media,” the Ministers said in a statement.

“The government has made its expectations clear. The decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses. Australian news publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide.”

The government said it remains “committed” to the Bargaining Code and is now seeking advice from Treasury and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on what its next move should be.

“We will now work through all available options under the News Media Bargaining Code,” they said.

The Opposition and the Greens have already called on the government to designate Meta under the code.

“The government must consider all options under the existing legislation to support Australian publishers and deliver a sensible outcome to support Australian media,” Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor said.

“This is world-leading competition policy and the government needs to use it.”

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young also urged the government to take action.

“A big tech company like Meta cannot be allowed to bully users, journalists and democratically elected governments by deciding which laws of the land they will choose to comply with,” Hanson-Young said.

“The Minister has the power to designate Meta under the News Media Bargaining Code and with this announcement today it’s clear that this needs to happen immediately.”

Under the changes, the specific Facebook News tab will be removed, but users will still be able to share news content and publishers will be able to post on their pages and accounts.

Meta also scrapped Facebook News in the UK, France and Germany late last year.

The news comes just days after it was revealed Meta was refusing to negotiate with media companies on the renewal of a number of deals set to expire at the end of June, worth a total of about $70 million annually.

The News Media Bargaining Code came into law in February 2021. It allows the government to designate a company under it which then forces them to enter into arbitration with media companies to decide on a revenue-sharing deal.

The code was highly contentious at the time, with Meta briefly blocking all Australia news content on Facebook when it was being debated in Parliament.

The government is yet to designate any company under the code, with Meta and Google signing a series of commercial deals with Australian publishers in 2021.

Meta signed 13 deals with media outlets worth about $70 million and running for three years, while Google signed 23 deals with media firms worth more than $130 million, and many running for five years.

While Meta has abandoned Australian media companies, Google has reiterated its intent to support the sector, and is understood to have commenced discussions with companies over deals that are close to expiring.

“We’ve been partnering with Australian news companies to strengthen quality journalism for two decades through our products, programs and commercial partnerships,” Google Australia Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy Lucinda Longcroft said in a statement.