News Corp agrees deal with Google over payments for journalism

News Corp will receive ‘significant payments’ to feature news outlets in Google’s News Showcase

Google and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp have signed a multi-year partnership that will lead to the search engine paying for journalism from news sites around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, the Times and the Australian.

The deal, which involves News Corp receiving “significant payments” to feature the company’s news outlets in Google’s News Showcase product, will last for three years, and comes with a number of other investments from Google, including “meaningful investments in video journalism” and the development of a subscription platform.

Robert Thomson, the chief executive of News Corp, said the deal would have “a positive impact on journalism around the globe as we have firmly established that there should be a premium for premium journalism”. “I would like to thank [Google CEO] Sundar Pichai and his team at Google, who have shown a thoughtful commitment to journalism that will resonate in every country. This has been a passionate cause for our company for well over a decade and I am gratified that the terms of trade are changing, not just for News Corp, but for every publisher.”

In a statement, Google’s Don Harrison, its president of global partnerships, said: “Today’s agreement with News Corp covers a wide range of our products such as News Showcase, YouTube, Web Stories, Audio and our ad technology. News Showcase has partnerships with over 500 publications around the world, demonstrating the value this product can bring to our news partners and readers everywhere. We hope to announce even more partnerships soon.”

The deal follows a proposal from the Australian government to force Google and Facebook to enter arbitration with Australian media companies forcing them to pay for not only excerpts of news articles, but also simple links to news websites. A number of major backers of the plan, including TV networks Seven and Nine, have agreed to be featured in Google’s News Showcase over the past week. With News Corp now signing its own deal, only a few Australian media companies remain as holdouts.

This week, the proposed legislation arrived in parliament, with the government standing firm in the face of threats from Google to pull out of Australia entirely if it passed, and Facebook’s proposed plan to ban news on the site.

News Corp’s Thomson specifically thanked the Australian government in the company’s announcement of the deal, highlighting “Australian competition and consumer commission’s Rod Sims and his able team, along with the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, and treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who have stood firm for their country and for journalism”.

By contrast, Microsoft last week publicly suggested extending the Australian government’s proposal worldwide. The company suggested Bing would be happy to fill any gaps in service if Google pulled out of Australia, which Microsoft president Brad Smith credited with prompting an early concession from the search engine.

“Our endorsement of Australia’s approach has had immediate impact,” Smith argued. “Within 24 hours, Google was on the phone with the prime minister, saying they didn’t really want to leave the country after all. And the link on Google’s search page with its threat to leave? It disappeared overnight. Apparently, competition does make a difference.”

Google News Showcase, the company’s flagship news service, is slowly rolling out worldwide. In the UK, Showcase launched at the beginning of February, with partners including the Evening Standard, the Financial Times, New Statesman and the Telegraph. The Guardian, Daily Mail owners DMGT and the BBC were among those not involved at the outset, meaning their journalism will not be displayed to users of the app.

News Showcase is intended to better display journalism on Google’s news platform, although some have dismissed it as a simple channel for Google to funnel payments to the news industry; it was launched with a commitment from Google CEO Sundar Pichai for $1bn in funding.


Alex Hern UK technology editor

The GuardianTramp

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