Google Inks Deals with Australia News Publishers; Facebook Refuses

News Corp struck a global news deal with Google on 17 February in one of the most extensive deals of its kind. 

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News Corp struck a global news deal with Google, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media company said on Wednesday, 17 February, in one of the most extensive deals of its kind with big tech, Reuters reported.

In a move that is expected to have significant implications on financial models of news publishers globally, Google is striking deals in Australia to pay for journalism but Facebook plans to restrict news sharing as Australian lawmakers consider forcing digital giants into payment agreements.

According to the Reuters report, the Australian deals come days before the government plans to pass laws that would allow it to appoint an arbitrator to set Google’s content fees if it cannot strike a deal privately.

The government and media figures have described this as a turning point for negotiations which stalled a year earlier. According to Google, India is among countries where it plans to enter similar negotiations.

WHY IS GOOGLE PAYING NEWS PUBLISHERS IN AUSTRALIA?

News publishers, especially smaller publishers across the world, have seen advertising revenues take a severe hit as digital platforms like Google and Facebook share news content on their platforms, earn revenue and also dictate the availability and reach of news content produced by traditional media houses.

Marcus Strom, president of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Australian journalists’ union, said media companies have a moral obligation to revenue from the digital platforms in news gathering, an ABC report stated.

In the United States, where smaller publishers in particular have lost advertisement revenue to the platforms, the news media trade group News Media Alliance is planning to reintroduce to Congress a bill that would allow publishers to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google without violating antitrust laws.

Google last year pledged $1bn over three years to pay global publishers and has said it reached terms with 450 “news partners”.

WHAT HAVE NEWS CORP-GOOGLE AGREED?

Reuters reported, the companies will develop a subscription platform, share advertising revenue through Google's advertisements technology services, build out audio journalism and develop video journalism by YouTube.

The deal comes after years of public feuding between Murdoch and Google, most recently in Australia, where Google has threatened to shut down its search engine to avoid "unworkable" content laws.

The company has declined to comment on the financial details of the deal which include’s the media house’s properties in the US and UK as well including The Wall Street Journal.

HAVE SIMILAR DEALS BEEN STRUCK WITH OTHER PUBLISHERS?

Alongside NewsCorp, Google has also struck deals with Nine Entertainment, Australia’s biggest TV network and publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review. It has also chalked out a deal with Seven West Media, the second-biggest TV network.

The deals are reported to be a combined worth of US$ 50 million with each reported to earn US$25 million annually in a three- to five-year deal.

Google has also agreed to pay $76 million (roughly Rs 550 crores) over three years to a group of 121 French news publishers to end a more than year-long copyright spat, documents seen by Reuters show.

The bigtech company has also moved to secure deals with major publishers in the UK, Germany, Brazil, and Argentina.

WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK?

Shortly after the News Corp-Google announcement, Facebook said it would no longer carry any news content in Australia because of that same new bargaining code

Facebook's decision stands in stark contrast to one from Google as it immediately stripped all news content from Australia in a dramatic escalation of its campaign.

“Today we made an incredibly difficult decision to restrict the availability of news on Facebook in Australia,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships stated in a company blog on 17 February.

Campbell added, “What the proposed law introduced in Australia fails to recognize is the fundamental nature of the relationship between our platform and publishers.”

Facebook alleged, contrary to what some have suggested, “Facebook does not steal news content. Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook.”

WILL THE SAME APPLY IN INDIA?

India is on Google’s map with regards to striking deals with publishers. While no deal has been finalised unlike in Australia, CEO Sundar Pichai had stated on 1 October 2020 that India is among the countries where the company is working to expand it’s News Showcase policy.

“The number of news publications will grow as we work to expand News Showcase to other countries including India, Belgium and the Netherlands,” Pichai stated in the blog.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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