Meta's pull-out may help Google's renegotiation with publishers

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 12 March 2024
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash.

Google has been put in a stronger position in its deals with Australian news publishers in the wake of Meta's withdrawal from paying publishers for their content.

Meta announced it will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content and will not offer Facebook products specifically for news publishers.

The federal government is expected to use the news bargaining code to force Meta to negotiate or face huge fines. 

Google told AdNews that the company doesn't comment on commercial negotiations.

However, Google has a significant number of deals with Australian news publishers and has begun talks to renegotiate on  those closest to expiry.

Many of the deals, including five year agreements with Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, have longer terms than the ones with Meta, which ran for three years.

Google's director of government affairs and public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Lucinda Longcroft, has said that the online giant has been partnering with Australian news companies to strengthen quality journalism for two decades through its products, programs and commercial partnerships.

"Over the past three years, we’ve furthered our significant contribution to the Australian news industry by signing commercial agreements with more than 70 Australian news businesses, representing more than 200 outlets across the country," she said.

"The majority of these outlets are regional or local.”

The Australian government found that in 2022, in its review of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code after its first year of operation, Google and Meta had more 30 agreements with a broad range of news businesses, both large and small, and in metropolitan and regional areas.

"We understand that Google has reached 23 commercial agreements. It continued to negotiate agreements after the commencement of the review, reaching an agreement with Minderoo Foundation on behalf of 24 publishers on 31 May 2022," said the report.

The government said that Google’s agreements with Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media run for five years, and its global agreement with News Corporation runs for three years, but that Google did not provide information on the terms of its agreements with other news businesses.

"Meta submitted that it has reached commercial agreements with 13 news businesses, but did not provide a list of these agreements," the report said.

"Meta appeared to cease negotiations during the second half of 2021. It submitted that the budget to support content agreements for these products was limited and it was therefore inevitable that some news businesses would not receive a deal."

A recent survey by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said publishers were moving away from using Facebook to drive audience referrals and towards alternate platforms, which included Google Search.

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