Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested Google will continue to offer its full range of services in Australia, following “constructive” talks with Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.
Google has previously said it would have “no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia”, should the controversial News Media Bargaining Code be made into law as it currently stands.
The tech giant’s strong position against the code has led some to start planning for life without Google in Australia, with the government this week revealing it had spoken with Microsoft about potentially investing in Bing as a replacement.
However, Morrison has now suggested that Google is willing to engage with the code, following his talks with Pichai.
“It was a constructive meeting. I have been able to send them the best possible signals that should give them a great encouragement to engage with the process and see them conclude with the various news organisations,” he said.
“That is the best way to enable that matter to be settled. We discussed some of the specifics of elements of the code. They raised those matters, I think, very respectfully. We have been able to get that into a much more positive space about the ability to continue to provide services here in Australia. At the end of the day, they understand Australia sets the rules for how these things operate.”
Earlier this week, Google said that removing search in Australia “is the last thing we want to have happen” and that it is a “worst case scenario”.
Google News Showcase kicks off
As part of its stance against the current News Media Bargaining code, Google is requesting it can pay publishers via the Google News Showcase, which launched in Australia today.
Part of a $1.3 billion global initiative, Google will pay 25 publications from seven different publishers in Australia.
Publishers include Australian Community Media (ACM), Schwartz Media, Solstice Media, The Conversation, and Private Media.
Google pays the publishers for ‘curatorial expertise’ under the agreement (rather than links) and publishers will receive guaranteed monthly payments for the next three years.
Stories from the Google News Showcase will now be visible in the Google News app.
Google has suggested the News Showcase could be included as part of the Code and could include arbitration if required.
“We have proposed to make Google News Showcase subject to the News Media Bargaining Code, that
means if a publisher is discussing a News Showcase deal with Google, and they’re not happy with the
negotiation, they could go to an arbitration to resolve any disagreement,” Google said.
“We know this is a workable solution because we’ve been able to do deals with publishers and
associations in countries like France that have similar publisher and regulatory dynamics to Australia.
We’re committed to investing in the future of our Showcase product, to enable us to support Australian
journalism in line with the goals of the Code.”
Since publication, Nine has issued a statement in response to news of the Google News Showcase.
“This is what monopolies do, they put an offer, in the form of Google Showcase, but not offer to negotiate. It has to be all on their terms and that is not an approach we will participate in, we support the legislation the Government is proposing as the best way to secure a fair payment for our content,” a Nine spokesperson said.
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