Google News Content Payment Row: Australia Says New Laws Already Working

Australia on Wednesday said promised laws forcing tech giants to pay media outlets for content had already succeeded after reports that publisher and broadcaster Nine Entertainment agreed on a licensing deal with Google.

The Alphabet owned company agreed to pay Nine more than AUD 30 million (roughly Rs. 170 crores) a year for its content, two of Nine’s newspapers reported, citing unidentified industry sources. The deal would be formally signed in the next two weeks, the newspapers said.

A Nine spokeswoman declined to comment to Reuters. A Google spokesman also declined to comment.

Nine would be the second major Australian media company to reach an agreement with Google just as the country’s parliament prepares to pass laws giving the government power to set Google’s content fees.

On Monday, Nine rival Seven West Media said it had reached a deal that local media reported would also involve the US company paying it AUD 30 million (roughly Rs. 170 crores) a year.

“None of these deals would be happening if we didn’t have the legislation before the Parliament,” Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters.

“This legislation, this world-leading mandatory code, is bringing the parties to the table. We have held the line and held it strongly.”

The Australian federal government has said it still plans to put the laws – which effectively force Google and social media giant Facebook to strike deals with media companies or have fees set for them – to a vote in the coming weeks.

Last year, seven smaller media companies, specialist websites and a regional newspaper, signed deals to have their content appear on Google’s News Showcase platform, but the country’s main metro outlets failed to reach agreements.

Several large domestic media players, including the local arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News – which owns two-thirds of Australian newspapers – have yet to announce Google deals. A News Corp spokesman was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

Media outlets around the world are trying to find a way to compensate for a slump in advertising revenue, traditionally their main source of income, which has resulted in widespread closures.

In January, the Reuters news agency, a division of Thomson Reuters Corp, struck a deal with Google to be the first global news provider for Google’s News Showcase.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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