Google relents, strikes deal to pay publishers for 'high-quality content'

Google will pay publishers in Australia, Germany and Brazil for high-quality content as part of a licensing programme that will help participating publishers monetise their content through an enhanced storytelling experience.

“We will start with publishers in a number of countries around the globe, with more to come soon,” Brad Bender, VP product management, news, Google said in a blog post. He added that this new product will launch first on Google News and Discover. Google is currently in discussions with more partners and plan to sign more in the coming months, Bender said.

Where available, Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read pay-walled articles on a publisher’s site.

Bender explained that this will let pay-walled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read content they might not ordinarily see. 

“This endeavour will diversify our support for news businesses today, building on the value we already provide through Search and our ongoing efforts with the Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age,” Bender said. According to him, while the company has previously funded high-quality content, this programme is “a significant step forward” in how it will support the creation of this kind of journalism.

Publishers currently involved are Australia's Schwartz Media, The Conversation and Solstice Media; Germany's Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit and Rheinische Post; and Brazil's Diarios Associados and A Gazeta. Marketing has reached out to Google for comment on when SEA publishers will be involved.

In April, Malaysian Newspaper Publishers Association's chairman Mustapha Kamil Mohd Janor, who is also CEO of New Straits Times Press, sent the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) a letter to have Google and Facebook share their revenue with publishers in the country. He explained that for the longest time, a source of potential income rests with digital platforms such as Google and Facebook, which have been using publishers’ content and generating revenue. 

“Unfortunately, they have not been sharing this revenue with news publishers. Not here, not globally. But things are changing with a recent development in Australia,” Mustapha said. “While revenue from our digital publications are growing, it is still small by comparison. As such, an alternative and sustained income from our businesses has never been more important,” Mustapha explained.

Earlier this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission drew up a mandatory code that will require digital platforms to pay for content they use. This came after Facebook and Google "failed to yield a voluntary code" to touch on complaints by Australian media companies that tech companies have "too tight a grip" on advertising, Reuters reported. Separately, France has somewhat made headway with Google. French magazine Marianne reported that the French Competition Authority ordered Google to conduct "negotiations in good faith" with news agencies and publishers regarding the renumeration of using their content. 

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