Google to fork out US$1bn in licencing payments to news publishers

Google is investing US$1 billion in partnerships with news publishers to support the industry and the future of news. This comes shortly after it was reported that Google is "within reach of" coming to a compromise on a law that would compel it to pay for Australian news. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said in a blog post that the financial commitment, which is its biggest to date, will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience.

According to Pichai, Google News Showcase is a new product that will benefit both publishers and readers. It features the editorial curation of popular newsrooms to give readers more insight on important stories, and at the same time helps publishers develop deeper relationships with their audiences.

Pichai explained that News Showcase is comprised of story panels that will appear initially in Google News on Android. The panels give participating publishers the ability to package the stories that appear within Google’s news products, providing deeper storytelling and more context through features such as timelines, bullets and related articles. Other components such as video, audio and daily briefings will come next.

This offering will start rolling out in Germany and Brazil, and will be extended to other countries over time. It will also launch soon on iOS and will come to Google Discover and Search in the future. Partnerships with close to 200 publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the UK and Australia have been signed for News Showcase. They include Der Spiegel, Stern, Die Zeit, Folha de S.Paulo, Band and Infobae alongside regionally and locally significant publications such as El Litoral, GZH, WAZ and SooToday. Pichai added that the number of news publications will grow as it works to expand the offering to other coutries including India, Belgium and the Netherlands.

"This approach is distinct from our other news products because it leans on the editorial choices individual publishers make about which stories to show readers and how to present them," he added.

News Showcase builds on its existing news licencing programme which currently pays publishers for quality journalism, and other news-related efforts such as Subscribe with Google, Web Stories and audio news. Earlier this year, Google also announced the Journalism Emergency Relief Fund to help thousands of small, medium and local news publishers globally.

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