Business & Economy

Google launches news platform in Australia amid dispute over proposed law

Sydney, Australia, Feb 5 (efe-epa).- Google on Friday launched its News Showcase platform in Australia amid controversy over a government bill seeking to force the tech giant, as well as Facebook and others, to pay local media for publishing their content.

The product was launched internationally last year alongside a $1 billion global investment plan and has since partnered with 450 publications in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.

In its blog, Google said that under News Showcase, local, regional and independent media in Australia, including The Canberra Times, Crikey and The Conversation who have signed up, will be paid to curate content for story panels across the platform under a licensing program.

Australia seeks to ensure the economic survival of local media with a bill, presented to parliament in December and currently being considered, that as law would force tech companies to pay local media for publishing their content across their platforms.

The proposed News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code aims to “address the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and digital platforms,” and an independent arbiter will be able to “determine the level of remuneration that should be paid under a fair and balanced final offer arbitration model should the parties be unable to reach agreement.”

The launch of News Showcase comes after Google last month threatened to pull its search engine from Australia if Canberra passes the legislation. This week it emerged that, in case Google goes ahead with the threat, Microsoft will improve its Bing search engine and comply with the code.

The proposal, which aims to protect local media, responds to the recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission set out in December 2019 in a report on the impact of search engines and social networks on the advertising and media market.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday that he had “constructive” talks about the code with Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Both Google and Facebook oppose the legislative proposal because they say it would affect their business models and generate uncertainty. EFE-EPA


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