Google launches News Showcase in Australia. Signs of compromise?
Google has announced the launch of its News Showcase in Australia. The program will feature news snippets from partner media outlets in the country. The news comes amid threats from the company to withdraw its flagship Search feature from Australia. Google has been critical of the country's proposed News Media Bargaining Code that mandates Google and Facebook to pay media outlets for news.
Unlike the News section under Search, Showcase features longer snippets in swipeable "story panels". The feature will be available in Google News for Android and iOS, as well as Discover for iOS. News Showcase is a part of Google's $1 billion global investment over three years to pay publishers for content. Showcase is available in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, and the UK.
Australia's proposed Media Code would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with media companies for content, with an arbiter to decide revenue sharing if no agreement is reached. Earlier, Google had threatened to withdraw Search from Australia. Subsequently, on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he held a "constructive" meeting with Google CEO Sundar Pichai as the company continued negotiations with Australian publishers.
The comment suggests the government may be willing to compromise on how the code is applied to Google, if many publishers are on board before the law is passed. Google has succeeded in lobbying the government to exempt YouTube from the code. The company's Search product presently accounts for over 90 percent of the search market in Australia.
Google recently agreed to pay French publishers for their content. The French policy requires Google to pay publishers for content on Showcase. The News tab under Google Search was removed for French users last year in compliance with the new copyright laws. Google says Australia's code considers only publisher's cost, not Google's and could lead to unreasonable demands from publishers for their content.