Google agrees to pay publishers for news

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 26 June 2020

Google will start paying select news publishers around the world for their content under a new licensing program.

The announcement comes after years of the tech giant pushing back against pressure from regulators and media owners to pay for news articles. 

Under the new agreement, Google will pay publishers in Australia, Brazil and Germany for content on Google News and Discover, including paying for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site in some cases.

The commercial details of the deal are not known. Industry insiders say major publishers, such as News Corp and Nine Entertainmnet, have yet to see the detail of the proposal.

However, Google is upbeat. 

“This endeavor will diversify our support for news businesses today, building on the value we already provide through Search and our ongoing efforts with the Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age,” Brad Bender, Google's vice-president for news, says.

“While we’ve previously funded high-quality content, this program is a significant step forward in how we will support the creation of this kind of journalism. To start, we have signed partnerships with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil.”

The agreement from Google comes as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is due to reveal mandatory codes nxt month forcing the tech giants to pay local media companies for their content.

Locally, publishers Solstice Media, The Conversation and Schwartz Media are part of the deal, although financial details haven’t been revealed. An industry source says Google is also in advanced talks with Australian Community Media.

“We have been actively working with our publisher partners on this new product which will launch first on Google News and Discover,” Bender says.

“We are currently engaged in discussions with many more partners and plan to sign more in the coming months.”

The major Australian publishers believe Google Australia should be paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the use of premium content. 

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, says it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is a politicised PR exercise.

“These deals show that Google is willing to negotiate directly with small publishers and that makes the work the ACCC is doing to frame a code of conduct that protects publishers in those negotiations more vital than ever. It must be made to negotiate on level terms with all genuine news publishers," he told The Australian

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