Google to start paying publishers for news

Daniel Fowler
June 27, 2020

"Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a news experience launching later this year", Brad Bender, Google's vice-president for news, said in a blogpost.

After Australia's competition authority was unable to negotiate a voluntary code of conduct to level the playing field between traditional media companies and large tech platforms, the government ordered it to create a mandatory code this spring that will govern the sharing of revenue generated from news.

Apparently Google is also offering to pay publishers to provide free access to otherwise paywalled content.

Google's partners include Australia's Solstice Media, Schwartz Media and The Conversation; Germany's Spiegel news magazine; and Brazilian regional media company Diarios Associados.

The new product will launch on Google News and Discover first.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted that we have been working on a licensing program with publishers for a long time.

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"It is no surprise that Google would try to stay on top of the game and it is no surprise that some publishers would be tempted to join in", she said of the partnerships discussed in Google blog post.

To date, The Google News Initiative (GNI) has provided funding to more than 5,300 local publications globally via a Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, an ad-serving fee waiver on Google Ad Manager and a $15 million Support Local News Campaign to help alleviate some immediate economic constraints. Last year, the European Union passed legislation allowing member states to require that companies such as Google pay for news articles they display to users.

"It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this is a politicised PR exercise and that Google has struck deals with publishers that reflect its views and stance on social issues", Mr Miller said.

For years, media organizations have criticized Google and other internet platforms for their treatment of news articles and grip on digital advertising. Facebook and Google are the focus of USA regulatory probes over competition and market power. Marketing has reached out to Google for comment on when SEA publishers will be involved. And, even if publishers wanted to go elsewhere, they can't really.

"It is a step in the right direction, but only a quite small one", he said. Google did not disclose the financial terms or when the new service will start. Industry insiders say major publishers, such as News Corp and Nine Entertainmnet, have yet to see the detail of the proposal.

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