Google pledges $1bn to news publishers

Posted on: October 1, 2020 by Claire Meadows

Google has pledged $1bn to news publishers over the next three years for the curation of “high-quality content”, it has announced.

Announced today by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the money will support the launch of Google News Showcase, a new product that will be rolled out in Germany and Brazil from Wednesday with anticipated expansion to other countries “where the framework exists” in the coming months.

Pichai said that the News Showcase will be made up of story panels that will appear initially in Google News on Android. The product will launch soon on Google News on iOS and will expanded to Google Discover and Search in the future. Partnerships have initially been signed with 200 publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia, he added.

He said: “These 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 like timelines, bullets and related articles. Other components like video, audio and daily briefings will come next.”

News Showcase has been set up to focus on Google’s contribution to the overall sustainability of news partners around the world, he said.

He added: “News Showcase builds on our existing news licensing program, which is already paying publishers for quality journalism, and other news-related efforts like Subscribe with Google, Web Stories and audio news. And it will give readers more context and perspective on important stories in the news and drive high-value traffic to a publisher’s site.”

One of the news groups confirmed in the rollout is Germany’s Der Spiegel. The organisation’s head of product development Stefan Ottlitz, told the FT the News Showcase showed Google was “serious about supporting quality journalism in Germany”.

Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, which owns The Times and The Sun, said: “We applaud Google’s recognition of a premium for premium journalism and the understanding that the editorial eco-system has been dysfunctional, verging on dystopian.

“There are complex negotiations ahead but the principle and the precedent are now established,” he added.

However, the European Publishers Council said in a statement that many of its members were “quite cynical”.

The Council’s executive director Angela Mills Wade said: “By launching their own product, [Google] can dictate terms and conditions, undermine legislation designed to create conditions for a fair negotiation, while claiming they are helping to fund news production.”