Google is extending an olive branch, or rather opening a bank branch, for the news publishing community with a pledge to pay out over $1 billion in licensing fees for news content.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlined the new initiative in a blog post on Thursday, centered around a new product called Google News Showcase. Curated content from select newsrooms will be presented to readers in the form of story panels that will appear initaly in Google News on Android and will launch "soon" on iOS and in Search in future.
"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," Pichai said.
The product has been rolled out to readers in Brazil and Germany to start and wil expand to other countries in the coming months. Google says it has signed partnerships for News Showcase with nearly 200 leading publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the UK and Australia, including Der Spiegel, Stern, S.Paulo, Band and Infobae, but the number of publications will grow as the product expands to other countries including India, Belgium and the Netherlands.
It is significant that the initial list includes Australian publishers, who are currently locked in negotiations with regulators and the platforms to work out a new deal to compensate and support the news industry.
News publishers have long complained that news aggregation on big platforms like Facebook and Google, while useful to grow digital readership, have stolen the lion's share of advertising from the fruits of their labours.
While both Facebook and Google have made sizeable commitments to support news publishing, attempts to compel the platforms to pay publishers and share algorithm changes in advance have been met with firm resistance by both Facebook and Google.