Google Pledges $1.4 Billion For News But Not In Australia

Google Pledges $1.4 Billion For News But Not In Australia
Graphic: Google, Getty Images

On Friday morning (Australian time), Google’s CEO Sundair Pichai made a big announcement. Google, he said, was making a big investment into news globally. Publishers from around the world welcomed the news — except for those from Australia.

What Pichai announced was a new news product and a truckload of money for journalism. News Showcase enables publishers to create “story panels” that allow them to package together their articles with photos, videos, timelines, bullets and related articles. This will show across Google’s mobile applications and on its Search and Discover products in the future.

But what really got people excited was the money attached: US$1 billion ($1.4 billion) to go to publishers partnered with Google over three years.

“This financial commitment—our biggest to date—will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience,” Pinchai wrote in a blog post.

Pichai said that Google has signed the partnership with “nearly 200 leading publications” from Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

Seems like Australia being name is good news for news in Australia right? Not so fast.

Why Google isn’t rolling out News Showcase in Australia just yet

In a statement, Google Australia & New Zealand’s managing director Mel Silva said that News Showcase — and the sweet, sweet cash associated with it — will not roll out in Australia just yet. And that’s because of the company’s continued fight with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over its attempts to force Google and Facebook to pay for news.

“Australia was one of the first countries in the world where we signed agreements with publishers to participate in News Showcase and we were in discussions with many more,” Silva said.

“As we’ve previously said, as we work to understand the impacts of the news media bargaining code on partnerships and products, we have put this project on pause for now. Although our concerns about the code are serious, we hope they can be resolved so we can bring News Showcase to Australia soon, as we believe the program will help publishers grow their audience and contribute towards the overall sustainability of our Australian news partners.”

So after leading with the stick, Google is now hanging the promise of moola over the head of publishers as a carrot to try and get them to turn against the ACCC’s draft news media bargaining code.