Google revives plan for Australia news portal amidst row over payment for content

28 Jan 2021


Google is reviving plans to launch its own news website in Australia amidst an ongoing spat with the government over the proposed legislation to make the company pay local news providers for use of content.

Media reports said Google has contracted local media outlets to provide articles for the venture, as the search giant fights the proposed laws on content payments.
Google had, in June last year, announced plans to launch `News Showcase’ in Australia by signing deals with six small local outlets for content. The plan did not move further as regulatory conditions re seen as adverse.
Australia’s competition regulator has published a draft copy of the proposed media bargaining code for making payments to local content providers and this could apply to Google’s proposed news portal as well.
The launch of the News Showcase product is seen as Google’s tactic against the Australian government’s planned legislation to make the company pay local news providers for use of content.
Reports citing Misha Ketchell, editor of the academic-penned newsite, The Conversation, said on Wednesday he was approached by Google “to resume discussions about launching the News Showcase product as soon as possible, potentially in February. We are working with them on this”.
While Google has the resources and the ability to start and manage its own media platform, it would bring an extra burden to the company that could otherwise have been avoided.
The decision to push ahead with the launch is seen as an apparent show of Google’s willingness to run its own content deals, negating the need for government-mandated legislation.
Google Australia chief executive Mel Silva told a parliamentary hearing last week the company would pull its flagship search tool from Australia if the laws, the first of their kind in the world, went ahead.
In a post on its local website, Silva says Google opposes paying for showing links to articles, not for publishing news.
“Right now, no website or search engine pays to connect people to other sites through links,” Silva said in the undated post. “This law would change that, making Google pay to provide links for the first time in our history.

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