Google has shelved plans for its curated news service News Showcase in Australia. The company writes in one blog post that an Australian bill makes it impossible to determine if the service is viable in the country.
Google and Facebook speak out
This is the bill called News Media Bargaining Code. The regulator Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has drawn up this code because of the corona crisis and the economic damage that journalism companies are suffering from declining advertising revenues.
Due to the bill, Google will not make its News Showcase service available in the country for now. With News Showcase, articles selected by publishers will appear in the Google News tab. Also, publishers can dress up shared links on the page with more context and timelines.
Google calls the policy in Australia “unworkable”. In the blog post, the company speaks out against the so-called must include, must paysystem from the bill. This means that Google not only has to pay news media for shared links, but it must also not incur additional costs for media.
“It means we can face payment claims that are extreme and out of proportion.” According to Google, these requirements are “not financially viable for any company”.
The ACCC has previously said the bill aims to get media companies around the table with Facebook and Google so they can “negotiate fairly.” The companies are given a few months to do this.
Google has previously spoken out against the bill, by warning in an open letter about the consequences for the operation of Google Search and YouTube. Search results would be limited by this law, leading to traditional media taking precedence at the expense of small media.
Facebook is also against the law. The company warned in early September that Australian users may no longer be able to share news on the platform if the country agrees to the bill. Facebook CEO Will Easton wrote that the new rules “do not understand the dynamics of the internet”. According to him, the law would also “harm news organizations that the government is trying to protect”.