In a world first Google launches News Showcase platform in Australia

On Friday, in a world first Google launched a paid news platform in Australia after it struck content deals with publishers in a move aimed at complying with Canberra’s new legislation.

Initially the News Showcase platform was slated for launch in June 2020, but Google delayed launching plans following Australia passing a new legislation which required tech giants, including Facebook and Google, to pay Australian media companies for content.

Google, which is still lobbying the Australian government in private meetings, has previously held the view that the legislation was “unworkable” and that it would force it to pull out of the country if it is implemented.

With the legislation now before a parliamentary inquiry, the launch of News Showcase in Australia will see Google pay seven domestic outlets, including the Canberra Times, to use their content.

The financial details of the content deals has yet to be disclosed.

The publisher of Canberra Times, Australian Community Media, did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Google has said, it looked forward to striking more deal with Australian publishers, whose position has been bolstered by Canberra’s aggressive push back against Google and Facebook.

“This provides an alternative to model put forward by the Australian government,” said Derek Wilding, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Media Transition. “What remains to be seen is if larger publishers sign on to the product”.

In January 2021, Google and a French publishers’ lobby had agreed to a copyright framework for it to to pay news publishers for online content, in a first for the European continent.

In a statement, Josh Frydenberg from the Australian Treasury said, Google’s approach had been “constructive” in recent days during private meetings.

“The Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) and myself and (Communications Minister) Paul Fletcher had a very constructive discussion with the head of Google just yesterday,” said Frydenberg. “In that discussion … they re-committed to Australia, we re-committed [to the legislation].”

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

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