Seven West Media is preparing to provide content for Google News Showcase in a deal that will see the first major Australian media company join the tech giant’s alternative solution to the media bargaining code.
In a release to the ASX on Monday, Seven said it was looking to sign the long-form deal in the next 30 days.
Seven’s chairman, Kerry Stokes, said in a statement the deal was “a great outcome for Seven West Media and for Google”.
“Our new partnership recognises the value, credibility and trust of our leading news brands and entertainment content across Seven and West Australian Newspapers,” Stokes said.
He heaped praise on the Prime Minister, Treasurer, and head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for their “outstanding leadership” in implementing the News Media Bargaining Code.
The code, which was given the nod of approval by a senate committee last week, would force arbitration between Australian news organisations and designated digital platforms if they are unable to come to a payment agreement for news content shared on their services.
Google threatened it would cut off Search for Australians if the code was passed into law, bringing a week’s worth of discussion about alternative search engines and the government’s bizarre tacit endorsement of Microsoft Bing.
Instead, the US tech giant has opted to bring its News Showcase feature to Australia last week, striking publishing deals on its own terms.
Currently, News Showcase is little more than a set of tiles on the Google News app which includes curated news stories from the handful of small publishers – including the Saturday Paper, Crikey, InDaily, and The Conversation – already being paid by Google.
Clicking on a news story takes you to the publisher’s website, giving them clicks, data, and the chance to show targeted advertising.
Google plans on bringing News Showcase to Search in the future.
Managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, Mel Silva, said the latest deal with Seven West was an example of Google making “a substantial investment in the future of journalism”.
“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, demonstrating that Showcase offers a constructive path forward for publishers, readers, and Google,” she said in a statement.
The ABC, Nine, and Guardian Australia are all reportedly in talks with Google to make similar deals in order to have Google pay for their news content.
Crikey editor-in-chief, Peter Fray, defended his publisher’s deal with Google on Monday, saying big tech should “pay for the news it uses”.
“It’s a licensing agreement,” he said of the Crikey deal.
“We do the content, they pay us to use it. No one is stealing anything.
“It’s a deal. A deal that the big publishers in the news media industry could presumably also do.”
Crucially, a News Showcase partnership will give news organisations more data on their readers, powered by Google’s massive data surveillance and analytics operations.
The News Media Bargaining Code includes requirements that digital platforms hand over more data about readers to news publishers.
“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,” Google said in a blog post about the Australian News Showcase launch earlier this month.
“This means publishers will have more data to better understand which articles and topics interest readers the most.”
“The negotiations with Google recognise the value of quality and original journalism throughout the country and, in particular, in regional areas,” Stokes said.
“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.”