Google has launched its News Showcase platform in Australia. The platform features content from publishers with whom Google has struck content agreements. The launch is part of Google's campaign to demonstrate to the Australian government that legislation that will compel Google to pay publishers for content is not required.
The News Showcase platform has so far only been rolled out in Brazil and Germany. For the platform Google has struck its own content agreements with 7 Australian outlets, including the Canberra Times. As part of the agreements Google would pay these outlets for content it features on the platform. The financial details of these agreements were not made public. In a statement Google said that it was looking forward to striking additional deals with Australian publishers to use their content.
What is the Australian media code?
The Australian government has introduced legislation that would force tech giants Google and Facebook to pay publishers for content that is displayed in their news feed and search results. This legislation is referred to as the 'Media Bargaining Code'. If the tech companies are unable to negotiate an agreement with a content publisher, the government would appoint an arbitrator to negotiate a fair price. The code is unprecedented and nothing similar currently exists anywhere in the world. Both Facebook and Google has opposed the legislation, with Google saying the code is 'unworkable'.
What problem does Australia's media code hope to solve?
Currently companies like Google and Facebook do not have to pay content publishers when the show their content in their search results or news feeds. Money is only passed on to the platforms if users on Google or Facebook click and visit the content publishers website. In recent years both Google and Facebook has expanded how they show content from publishers on their platforms, reducing the need for users to click and visit the publishers website. This has led to massive losses in revenue for media companies to the tech giants. According to the The Guardian, for ever USD 100 of advertising spend USD 53 goes to Google, USD 28 to Facebook and USD 19 to everyone else1. The loss of revenue has cause many media organizations to struggle with many having gone out of business all together.
Why does Google oppose the code?
Google has raised a concern saying that the code is "unworkable" and would force the company to pay unreasonable and exorbitant amounts. The company even made a statement that if the code is implemented, it would have no option but to stop services in the Australian market. To comply with the code not only would Google have to work out deals and pay all content publishers it would need to make significant changes to how its search results are curated and how content is presented.
What role does News Showcase play?
The launch of News Showcase is part of Google campaign to show the government of Australia that the media bargaining code is not necessary. So far the government has taken a strong stance against the tech giants despite the threats to stop services in Australia. Speaking about the launch of the platform, Derek Wilding, professor at the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Media Transition said, “This provides an alternative to the model put forward by the Australian government. What remains to be seen is if larger publishers sign on to the product"
What happens with Australia's Media Bargaining code will set a precedent for the rest of the world and could fundamentally change how media companies operate in the digital landscape. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on stories like this.
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1. Meade, A. 2020, "Australia is making Google and Facebook pay for news: what difference will the code make?", The Guardian [online] Available From: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/dec/09/australia-is-making-google-and-facebook-pay-for-news-what-difference-will-the-code-make [Accessed Feb 2021]