Seven becomes first major media brand to strike Google News Showcase deal

Seven West Media has become the first of the big media players to enter into a deal with Google News Showcase, the tech giant’s mechanism through which to pay publishers for news content.

Seven said the deal will result in “fair payment”, but did not disclose how much Google will pay to license its content. While the media company has signed a letter of understanding, the deal will be official when a long form agreement is executed within the next 30 days.

A week ago, after the product’s launch, Seven’s rival Nine slammed News Showcase, saying: “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.”

Seven CEO James Warburton

As recently as December, Seven was aligned with Nine and other big media companies pushing for the News Media Bargaining Code as it stood. Google has maintained it is not opposed to a “workable” code, but that it requires a number of amendments for the tech company not to resort to the “worst case scenario” and remove its search function from Australia.

“The revised code provides the concessions to the digital platforms that they have been asking for,” Warburton said at the end of last year. “There’s now no reason for Facebook or Google to be unwilling to negotiate fair agreements.”

Now, chair Kerry Stokes says the News Showcase deal is a “great outcome” and Google has taken a “leadership position”.

“Our new partnership recognises the value, credibility and trust of our leading news brands and entertainment content across Seven and West Australian Newspapers,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, with particular recognition of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who has been instrumental in the outcome of this ground-breaking agreement.

“Their outstanding leadership on the implementation of the proposed News Media Bargaining Code has resulted in us being able to conclude negotiations that result in fair payment and ensure our digital future.

“The negotiations with Google recognise the value of quality and original journalism throughout the country and, in particular, in regional areas.

“Google is to be congratulated for taking a leadership position in Australia and we believe their team is committed to the spirit of the proposed code.”

Seven chair, Kerry Stokes

The announcement was lodged with the ASX as CEO James Warburton presented to investors on the media company’s half year results; Seven revealed it had posted a $116.4 million net profit and reduced its debt by 42% to $329 million.  Warburton mentioned the Google deal after the news had hit the ASX, towards the end of the investor presentation.

At the end of last week, the senate economics legislation committee recommended the News Media Bargaining Code should become legislated, prompting Google to restate its commitment to a modified code. Managing director Mel Silva said Seven becomes a “major Australian publishing partner”.

“Seven West Media is one of Australia’s leading integrated media companies across broadcast, print and digital news and joins with 21 publications across a variety of titles as diverse as The West Australian, 7NEWS, PerthNow, the Albany Advertiser, the Geraldton Guardian and the Broome Advertiser,” she said.

“Our partnership with Seven West Media sees us make a substantial investment in the future of journalism not just across the metropolitan areas, but importantly in regional areas too where titles like the Kalgoorlie Miner and the Harvey-Waroona Reporter are at the heart of the local community.

“Showcase has been very well received since its launch in Australia a little over a week ago with our publisher partners receiving one million views of their content in just eight days.”

Other participating publishers include Private Media, Schwartz Media, Solstice Media, The Conversation, and Australian Community Media.


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