CANBERRA, Australia – Seven West Media has become Australia’s largest news media business to strike a deal with Google to pay for journalism in a partnership announced Monday before the country’s Parliament considers a bill that forces digital giants to pay for news.
Google and public broadcast television, print and online publishing companies jointly announced that they had agreed a “long-term partnership” after weekend discussions by Australian government ministers with media executive Facebook.
and its subsidiary Google.
Kerry Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media, which has 21 publications, thanked the Australian government and competition regulators for their proposals.
“Their exceptional leadership in implementing the proposed news media bargaining code has allowed us to conclude negotiations that yield fair payouts and ensure our digital future,” Stokes said in a statement.
“The negotiations with Google recognize the value of quality and genuine journalism across the country and, in particular, in the region,” added Stokes.
The deal was reached under Google’s own model, the News Showcase. Google has reached payment agreements with more than 450 publications globally since the News Showcase launched in October.
Google announced two weeks ago that it had started paying for seven much smaller Australian websites under the News Showcase.
Google regional director Mel Silva said: “We are proud to support genuine, trusted and quality journalism and are delighted to welcome Seven West Media today as Australia’s premier publishing partner to join the Google News Showcase.”
The partnership is a big investment for Google in journalism not only in metro areas but also in smaller communities, he added.
Neither Google nor Seven West Media said how much the deal was worth. Rival media company Nine Entertainment reported, citing unnamed industry sources, that it was worth more than 30 million Australian dollars ($ 23 million) a year.
Prior to the announcement, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Google and Facebook were close to reaching a commercial agreement, “which could be of great benefit to the domestic media landscape and see journalists being rewarded financially for producing original content, as it should be.”
Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Frydenberg’s discussions with their leaders.
Google has stepped up its campaign against the proposed law, telling the Senate committee researching it that the platform will likely make search engines unavailable in Australia if the code is introduced.
Facebook threatened to block Australians from sharing news if the platform was forced to pay for news.
Although the digital giants can bear the potential costs of paying for the Australian news they link to, they are concerned about the international precedent Australia could set.
Google has faced pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for news. Last month, they signed a deal with a group of French publishers, paving the way for companies to make digital copyright payments. Under the agreement, Google will negotiate individual licensing deals with newspapers, with payments based on factors such as the amount of internet site traffic published daily and monthly.
In Australia, the platform is able to enter into payment agreements with media businesses before the code is promulgated.
The law will create an arbitration panel to make binding decisions on payments if the news platform and business cannot agree on a price for news.
Panels will usually receive the best deals from platforms or publishers, and rarely set prices in between.
This should prevent news platforms and businesses from making unrealistic requests.