Australia Information Media ‘Massive and Small’ Focus on Google Offers | Enterprise Information

By ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Google was quick to negotiate lavish deals with Australian media companies large and small to pay for news as parliament is considering forcing digital giants into such agreements, a minister said Wednesday.

Seven West Media was Australia’s largest news media company to sign a contract with Google to pay for journalism on Monday, and its rival Nine Entertainment was reportedly close to announcing its own deal.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed that the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. is also in negotiations and plans to spend Google revenues on regional journalism.

“Negotiations are currently underway with all actors, large and small,” Frydenberg told reporters. “This will help maintain journalism of public interest in this country for years.”

Frydenberg said “none of these deals would take place” unless the proposed legislation created what is known as a code of negotiation for the news media.

Changed laws creating the Code should be introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The Code would set up an arbitration tribunal to set a mandatory price for news when Google and Facebook couldn’t do business with media companies whose original journalism they link to.

“All I’ve heard from parties, both in the news media business and in relation to digital platforms, is that these are generous deals,” said Frydenberg.

“These are fair deals. These are good offers. These are good offers for Australian media companies, ”he added.

Google and Facebook, which together handle 81% of online advertising in Australia, have condemned the code as inoperative.

Google has threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the code were introduced. Facebook said it could prevent Australians from sharing news if the platform were forced to pay for news.

Frydenberg said after talks over the weekend with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, managing director of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, that he was convinced that the platforms “want to make these commercial agreements”.

Frydenberg denied giving Zuckerberg and Pichai grounds by agreeing to change the legislation since their talks.

“We held the line and kept it strong,” said Frydenberg. “And the digital giants left no doubt about the determination of the … government.”

Google confirmed in a statement that it was “in talks with publishers large and small”. Facebook is also looking for news offers. Facebook said in a statement it had “nothing to confirm at this point”.

The Australian contracts with Google are being negotiated under Google’s own News Showcase model. Since launching News Showcase in October, the company has signed collective agreements with more than 450 publications worldwide.

Investment bank JPMorgan estimated that Seven West Media will receive between AU $ 39.5 million ($ 30.6 million) and AU $ 69.2 million ($ 53.6 million) from its content deal with Google could.

Google announced two weeks ago that it has started paying seven much smaller Australian websites under News Showcase. Prices were not disclosed.

Facebook has a similar product called Facebook News, but it is not available in Australia.

Some media analysts are surprised that Australian media companies would make news showcase deals if they made more money from mandatory arbitration under the government code.

Frydenberg suggested that Google’s threat to leave Australia had eased as “the pace of these negotiations increased”.

“We tried to keep the main players in Australia,” said Frydenberg. “Google had been talking about leaving Australia. We never wanted that to happen. They are an important part of the age of the digital landscape. “

Marcus Strom, president of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Australia’s journalists’ union, said media companies have a moral obligation to invest the revenues of digital platforms in news gathering.

“All money from these deals must end up in the newsroom, not in the boardroom,” said Strom.

“We will press for transparency in how these funds are being spent,” he added.

Google has been pressured by other authorities to pay for news. Last month, a contract was signed with a group of French publishers that paved the way for the company to make payments with digital copyright. As part of the agreement, Google will negotiate individual license agreements with newspapers. Payments are based on factors such as the daily published amount and monthly internet site traffic.

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