Google has responded to the Federal Government’s decision to enforce a mandatory code between publishers and tech giants.
Having previously implored stakeholders to come to a voluntary agreement, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg surprised many last month when he announced the government would intervene and enforce a mandatory code.
The code, a draft of which is due to be released in July, is expected to see the likes of Google and Facebook pay for news content for the first time.
It followed cries for help from the Australian media, including an op-ed by News Corp Australia COO in The Australian calling for the government to ‘tame’ Google and Facebook.
But now Google Australia managing director Mel Silva [feature image] has hit back at the government’s decision, addressing some of the ‘misconceptions’ around Google’s relationship with media outlets.
“All publishers on the internet want to be found by new users, alongside businesses that include news media interests,” she said.
“Publishers have always been able to decide whether their content shows up in Google Search. Most choose to be found via Google to attract more visitors to their sites.”
Google drives traffic to news sites more than 24 billion times each month, according to Silva.
She also likened Google’s relationship with media outlets to the traditional relationship between print publications and publishers.
“In the offline print world, publishers have long paid retailers, newsstands and kiosks to distribute their newspapers and magazines – acknowledging the value of acquiring audiences to a publishers’ content and the advertising publishers sell alongside it,” Silva explained.
“In contrast, Google Search sends readers from Australia and all over the world to the publishers’ sites for free – helping them to generate advertising revenues from those audiences and convert them into paying subscribers.”
Silva also confirmed Google Search does not make money when a user clicks on a news search, rather when users click on ads.
the voluntary code
At the time of the Treasurer’s announcement, both Google and Facebook were understood to have been in the process of negotiating terms with media outlets.
These talks had delivered “insufficient progress” according to Frydenberg.
However, Silva claimed these talks were well and truly underway.
“Google acted in good faith, working constructively by consulting with more than 25 news media businesses – broadcasters, print and online publishers from metro and regional areas,” she said.
“We met with some publishers on multiple occasions to work through and understand complex issues.”
Google was also on track to deliver a progress report, which the ACCC had asked for, by the end of April.
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