Google returns fire following ‘several inaccuracies’ in a News Corp publication

Google Australia has issued a statement following an article in News Corp publication, The Australian, that it claims included “several inaccuracies” about Google’s position on the News Media Bargaining Code.

Australia’s major television networks, publishers, radio networks and peak industry bodies issued an official call on Monday for the Federal Government to implement a news media bargaining code before the end of the year.

In the joint statement, the organisations said Google and Facebook must start to pay for news media if local news businesses are to survive, especially following a year of floods, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Google does not object to a code that regulates the relationships between publishers and platforms,” said Google’s director of government affairs and public policy, Lucinda Longcroft. “In fact, we agree with Australian news businesses that the goal should be a Code that is fair for everyone – publishers, platforms, and Australian businesses and users.”

The tit for tat between traditional media players and the digital platforms has been brewing since April when the Australian Government asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, “specifically Google and Facebook”.

On 31 July the ACCC released a draft code for public consultation, which closed on 28 August 2020. The ACCC is considering the submissions as part of finalising recommendations it will provide to the treasurer, the ACCC is yet to provide a timeline on the delivery of the final code.

In its latest statement, Google said the details of the final code matter as they will have an impact not just on platforms and publishers, but the millions of Australians who use tools such as Google Search, “which is why we are asking for reasonable changes to get there”.

Longcroft added: “As we’ve pointed out before, it’s incorrect to claim that Google “exploits news”. Publishers can choose whether or not their websites appear in Search… Google sent more than 3 billion clicks and visits to Australian news publishers in 2018 – for no charge, resulting in an estimated $218 million worth of value for these publishers.

“In fact, we are willing to invest more in partnerships with publishers. We have already committed over A$1.3 billion for Google News Showcase, a new program which publishers have welcomed both within Australia and around the world.”


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