Google in Talks to Pay Publishers for News Content -- 3rd Update
By Benjamin Mullin
Alphabet Inc.'s Google is in talks with publishers about paying
a licensing fee for content in a news product, according to people
familiar with the matter, a move that would mark a shift in the
search giant's relationship with news organizations.
Talks are early, and it isn't known if agreements will be
reached, the people said. Most of the publishers in talks with
Google are outside the U.S., including in France and elsewhere in
Europe, one of the people said.
Financial terms of the possible licensing agreements being
considered couldn't be learned. The talks are focused on licensing
content to appear in a free Google product, one of the people said,
though the details are still being hammered out.
Licensing deals between Google and news organizations for its
news product would be a watershed moment for publishers, who have
long sought compensation from the search giant. Google sends news
organizations huge amounts of traffic each month through its search
engine but has so far resisted paying news organizations for their
Google would be the third tech giant to move toward paying
publishers. Last year, Facebook said it would pay news
organizations -- in some cases millions of dollars a year -- to
license their headlines and story summaries for a news service.
Apple Inc. last year launched its own news app, Apple News+,
which for $9.99 a month provides access to articles from hundreds
of magazines including Vogue, GQ and Sports Illustrated. In
addition to The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and
Toronto Star are among the North American newspapers that joined
The Google talks come amid pressure from news executives outside
the U.S. -- especially in France -- who have asked Google to pay a
licensing fee to display their content in its search results.
Google said in September that it wouldn't pay European news
organizations for the right to include their content in its search
results, sparking a backlash among publishers who expected
compensation after the passage of a new European Union copyright
Some news organizations have recently said they would develop
their own news aggregators to compete with tech giants such as
Google, Facebook and Apple.
News Corp -- the parent company of Wall Street Journal owner Dow
Jones -- earlier this year launched Knewz, a website that curates
headlines from a variety of news sources. AT&T Inc.'s CNN said
last year it is developing Newsco, a news aggregator that aims to
compete with news products from Facebook and Apple.
News organizations have long pushed tech giants that display
content in their products for licensing fees. For years, tech
companies resisted, favoring donating to news organizations through
philanthropic arms or offering indirect compensation in the form of
increased web traffic.
Google and Facebook have been facing growing criticism for their
roles in the news industry's struggles by sucking up much of the
advertising revenue that used to go to newspapers. Combined,
Facebook and Google are expected to earn 61% of all digital
advertising revenue in the U.S. this year, according to
BuzzFeed Chief Executive Jonah Peretti said in an interview that
he was encouraged by reports that Google was planning to pay news
organizations to license content. When he was raising money for
BuzzFeed a decade ago, he told potential investors that major tech
firms such as Facebook and Google would ultimately pay publishers
for content, the same way cable companies pay TV programmers for
"You have to have some quality journalism or the vacuum will be
filled by counterfeit journalism," Mr. Peretti said. He declined to
say whether BuzzFeed had been approached by Google.
When Facebook launched its news service last year, Chief
Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the social-media giant's decision to
pay media outlets that participate in the service was a model other
internet companies should follow.
"I think every internet platform has a responsibility to help
fund and support news," he said at an October event in New York,
where he discussed the service with Robert Thomson, chief executive
of News Corp, which owns the Journal. "Hopefully others will follow
the model we are helping to set up."
Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 14, 2020 16:01 ET (21:01 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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