CANBERRA, Australia – Seven West Media has become the largest Australian media company to reach an agreement with Google to pay for journalism in a partnership announced Monday before the nation’s Parliament considers bills to force digital giants to pay for news.
Google and the publicly traded online, print and television publishing company jointly announced that they had agreed to a “long-term partnership” after the weekend discussions Australian government ministers had with media executives, Facebook FB,
CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc. GOOGL,
and its subsidiary Google.
Kerry Stokes, president of Seven West Media, which owns 21 publications, thanked the Australian government and competition regulator for their proposal.
“His outstanding leadership in implementing the proposed media bargaining code has resulted in us being able to conclude negotiations that result in fair pay and secure our digital future,” Stokes said in a statement.
“The negotiations with Google recognize the value of quality and original journalism throughout the country and, in particular, in regional areas,” Stokes added.
The deal was made under Google’s own model, News Showcase. Google has reached payment agreements with more than 450 publications around the world since the News Showcase launched in October.
Google announced two weeks ago that it had started paying for seven much smaller Australian websites under News Showcase.
Google Regional Director Mel Silva said: “We are proud to support original, trusted and quality journalism, and we are pleased to welcome Seven West Media today as a leading Australian publishing partner to join the Google News Showcase.” .
The partnership was a substantial investment for Google in journalism not just in metropolitan areas but in smaller communities, he added.
Neither Google nor Seven West Media mentioned how much the deal was worth. Rival media company Nine Entertainment reported, citing unidentified industry sources, that it was worth more than A $ 30 million ($ 23 million) a year.
Before the announcement, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had said that Google and Facebook were close to finalizing trade deals, “which could be of real benefit to the national media landscape and see journalists financially rewarded for generating original content, such as should be”.
Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Frydenberg’s discussions with their leaders.
Google has stepped up its campaign against the proposed law, telling the Senate committee that examined it that the platform would likely make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the code were introduced.
Facebook has threatened to prevent Australians from sharing news if the platform is forced to pay for the news.
While the digital giants can afford the likely cost of paying for the Australian news they link to, they are concerned about the international precedent Australia could set.
Google has faced pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for the news. Last month, he signed a deal with a group of French publishers, paving the way for the company to make digital copyright payments. Under the agreement, Google will negotiate individual license agreements with newspapers, with payments based on factors such as daily published amount and monthly website traffic.
In Australia, platforms can make payment arrangements with media companies before the code is enacted.
The legislation would create an arbitration panel to make binding decisions on payment in cases where a platform and a news company cannot agree on the price of news.
The panel generally accepted the best offer from the platform or publisher, rarely setting an intermediate price.
This should deter both platforms and news outlets from making unrealistic demands.