Google says it will pay publishers for publishing news

Photo: BBC Redes

Google announced that it is willing to pay news companies in three countries, including Brazil, to help a struggling sector, a decision made under pressure from governments and media groups around the world.

Although the details of the plan are not known, the measure may represent a significant change by the internet giant that would follow the path started by Facebook and Apple, with the creation of news products in association with the media.

Google said it will pay media partners in three countries and cover the costs of paid news sites to give users free access.

The program will start "with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil" and is slated to expand to more countries, Google announced.

"A vibrant news industry is important, perhaps now more than ever, as people search for information they can count on amid a global pandemic and growing concern about racial injustice around the world," said Brad Bender, vice president of news product management at Google.

Google intends to pay for "high-quality content for a new news experience to be launched later this year," to allow media groups to "monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience." Bender said

News industry in trouble

The movement echoes the problems of news organizations that fight against the decrease in readership of the written press and face the challenge of the new digital ecosystem, where advertising revenue is focused on technology platforms such as Google and Facebook.

Google has been accused of diverting revenue online and its announcement comes after facing legal battles in France and Australia over its reluctance to pay the media for what it publishes on the web.

The Californian giant has responded to criticism by saying it helps drive traffic and revenue for online news sites and has pushed the Google News initiative to collaborate with journalists.

Google's plan to pay to publish news precedes Facebook's initiative to create a "news tab" in association with media groups to promote journalism and curb fake news.

Apple launched its news app in 2015, which aims to promote media subscription, and in 2019 added a paid service called Apple News + that shares revenue with newspaper and magazine publishers.

Among the first Google partners will be the Spiegel group, in Germany, and the Diarios Associados company, in Brazil. Australians Schwartz Media, The Conversation and Solstice Media are also part of the project, according to public channel ABC.

Vague and confusing plan

Google's announcement did not clarify what impact the initiative would have or how much money will be invested in the plan.

David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, which represents the US news industry, said the announcement is "vague and confusing" and may have been intended to help Google negotiate its legal battles with the media.

"It is a step in the right direction, but a fairly small one," he said.

The move "could translate into increased revenue for a small number of big publishers in big markets and very little for small publishers and publishers in small markets," said Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, who heads the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford for the study of journalism, on Twitter.

Nikos Smyrnaois, a professor of media at the University of Toulouse in France, said for his part that Google's announcement marks a "turning point", but that it may not help a sector in conflict.

"It fits into a divide-and-conquer strategy," Smyrnaois said. "Google's goal is not to pay everyone else," he added.

For Gabriel Kahn, a professor studying media economics at the University of Southern California, Google's project is not what the industry expected.

"Google has crossed an important philosophical threshold: the idea of ​​paying producers for the content it distributes," he said. “But it is still Google setting the rules for its own game. Google is still the one who decides who can play, what are the conditions and how much is paid, "he added.

Numerous publications in Europe and around the world, including AFP, called on the European Union to take steps to compel internet companies to pay them for publishing the material they produce.

In April, the French body that monitors competition in markets said Google should start paying the media for showing its content and ordered it to start negotiations after refusing to adapt to new European rules on digital intellectual property.

And earlier this month, Google rejected an Australian order to compensate local news media with hundreds of millions of dollars a year imposed in a revenue-sharing agreement.



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