‘This is what monopolies do’: Nine slams Google News Showcase launch

Nine has refused to participate in Google News Showcase, denouncing its launch as another sign the tech giant will not negotiate reasonably with media companies.

Google launched News Showcase on Friday, claiming the licensing program – through which mastheads are paid monthly fees for three years – is a better way to pay for news than the proposed News Media Bargaining Code. But Nine has vehemently disagreed.

“This is what monopolies do, they put an offer, in the form of Google Showcase, but not offer to negotiate,” a Nine spokesperson said.

“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.”

Media companies such as Nine and News Corp are at loggerheads with Google and Facebook over the code, which would force parties to negotiate over the cost of news and proceed to arbitration if they cannot reach an agreement.

Google has said the current code would “break” its search engine, leaving it with no choice but to pull its search function from the Australian market should it become legislated. Facebook, meanwhile, has also threatened to remove news from its platform if the code becomes law.

While the launch of News Showcase in Australia, and a three year commitment to the news outlets involved, suggested Google’s brinksmanship may have softened, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Google can terminate the deals if the law is passed.

News Corp and Nine titles are not included in the list of launch partners. The first round of mastheads to receive the News Showcase funding include: Private Media’s Crikey, Solstice Media’s InDaily, New Daily, Schwartz Media’s The Saturday Paper, The Conversation, and Australian Community’s Media’s Newcastle Herald, Canberra Times and Illawarra Mercury. Google said it will add titles to that list in the coming weeks and months.

In contrast with Nine’s response, participating companies such as Schwartz heralded the initiative as “a chance to take a leading role in putting quality journalism in front of people” and “one way of addressing the age of misinformation in which we live”.

The publishers have their content – including stories usually behind a paywall – featured in panels across Android, iOS and web versions of Google News. The featured articles link to the outlet’s site, and give publishers “more ways to bring important news to readers and explain it in their own voice”, according to Google.

The search giant’s head of news, web, and publishing product partnerships, Kate Beddoe, explained in a blog post coinciding with the launch that “we’re also making it easier for publishers to learn more about what their readers care about”.

“Publishers are already able to get analytics on their content in a variety of Google products, and in the coming months they will be able to learn even more with News Showcase metrics on Search Console, she wrote.

“This means publishers will have more data to better understand which articles and topics interest readers the most.”


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