Google will start paying Australian publishers for news content as part of a global initiative.
Announced overnight, Google’s new licensing program will see Australian media businesses Schwartz Media, Private Media (publisher of Crikey) and Solstice Media all paid for their content.
Google has also confirmed it is in “advanced discussions” with Australian Community Media, as well as numerous other publishers.
“This licensing program signals a major development in how we work with news publishers and help support the creation of quality journalism,” said Google Australia managing director Mel Silva.
“This is just the start. We’re in discussions with a diverse array of publishers of all sizes in Australia and around the world — including major publishers, and regional and local papers — and hope to have more to announce in the near future.”
Google’s VP of product management, news Brad Bender said the focus is on high-quality content.
“Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year,” Bender said.
“This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that lets people go deeper into more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to a world of different issues and interests.
“We will start with publishers in a number of countries around the globe, with more to come soon.”
The financial details of the arrangement have not yet been revealed, although Bender confirmed it would go “above and beyond” the $US300 ($436) million investment in its Google News initiative.
Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles “where possible”.
The licensing program will also take place in Germany and Brazil, with plans to expand globally.
The product will first launch on Google News and Discover.
The announcement of the initiative in Australia comes as the ACCC prepares the news media bargaining code, which is due to be released for public consultation by the end of July.
The financial details of the deal have not been released.
It remains to be seen whether or not this figure will be close to the $1 billion a year fee News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller has previously called for.
Earlier this month, Silva argued Google has helped media businesses generate additional advertising revenue through a “substantial two-way value exchange”.
Bender reinforced this point in the announcement.
“Over the years, we’ve built audiences and driven economic value for publishers by sending people to news sites over 24 billion times a month, giving publishers the opportunity to offer ads or subscriptions and increase the audience for their content,” he said.
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