Google drops Australia from its News Showcase launch

Google

Google has postponed the roll-out of News Showcase in Australia citing regulatory complications, just 3 months after announcing the product, as the US search giant grapples with one of the most audacious attempts to police its activities.

After naming Australia, Germany and Brazil as markets where it would begin paying publishers to attribute their news, the Alphabet owned business dropped Australia from the product’s launch this week since its antitrust body has since pushed for laws forcing Google to pay royalties for articles industry-wide.

Google said it has consequently “paused” contracts with five local publishers whose information was expected to feature on News Showcase, which introduces articles on swipable cards that dubs story panels.

“Although our concerns about the code are serious, we hope they can be resolved so we can bring News Showcase to Australia soon,” Silva said.

The delay represents a snag at a strategy widely regarded as an attempt by the tech heavyweight to show it might work with media firms as authorities worldwide, led by Australia, look to new legislation to make the company pay for articles on its search engine.

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Overnight, Google said it would pay $1 billion to publishers globally for their information over three years, an initiative some business bodies have said gives it a lot of influence with regards to royalty payments without requiring regulations.

A month after Google announced content deals in Australia, Germany and Brazil, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it might bring about arbitrators to decide how much the US company and societal networking giant Facebook should cover information which appears on their sites.

Facebook responded by saying it could pull all information items from its Australian internet pages. Google has said the ACCC’s position has put its flagship research engine under danger.

“It’s a pity that work on this project has been paused, but before we blame the regulator we shouldn’t forget that the work done by the ACCC provided much of the impetus for Google to do deals with Australian publishers in the first place” said Misha Ketchell, editor at The Conversation, who are among the publishers with a Google deal.

“Still optimistic”

“We are still optimistic. We’ve been talking to Google all the way through and they’ve been far more open-minded than their public campaign might suggest,” Ketchell said.

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ACCC Chairman Rod Sims, who intends to make a final policy recommendation about Big Tech content royalties this month, said he was aware of” voluntary commercial arrangements offered by the large platforms”.

“We note that the timing of these offers appears to coincide with increased Government scrutiny both in Australia and overseas,” Sims said in an email to journalists at our partner news agency Reuters.

“The (ACCC’s) objective is commercial, not one-sided, outcomes.”

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Byron Kaye. Editing by Christopher Cushing.

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