Google To Restore ‘News Showcase’ Service To Australia – Report

Google is reportedly restarting its plan to launch its own news website in Australia, despite its ongoing confrontation with the Australian government over content payments.

Reuters cited a local media outlet that has been contracted to provide articles for the venture as saying that the Google news website in Australia could be available within weeks.

Google in June 2020 it should be remembered had announced its ‘News Showcase’ scheme, which would have seen news publishers in Australia, Brazil, and Germany being compensated for the news they produce.

News Showcase

CEO Sundar Pichai had pledged $1 billion (£778m) over three years to the scheme, which will be rolled out worldwide after it launch in the three countries mentioned above.

In November Google signed copyright agreements with six French newspapers and magazines, including Le Monde and Le Figaro. And then earlier this month Google and a French publishers’ lobby recently agreed a copyright framework under which the US tech giant will pay news publishers for content online.

But despite this, Australia is pressing ahead with a controversial rule change that will force tech firms to pay local publishers for news and other content they utilise or even link to on their platforms.

The legislation is currently being reviewed by an Australian Senate committee, and a vote is expected early this year.

Australia’s law is being strongly opposed by Google and Facebook, despite Australia touting the incoming law as a way to protect independent journalism.

However so controversial is the scheme that Google announced in October 2020 that it was ‘pausing’ its News Showcase in Australia.

And last week a senior Google executive warned that Google could remove its search engine from Australia over the matter.

But the Australian government is refusing to back down, despite the US government asking Australia to halt the incoming legislation.

Pressing ahead

But now according to Reuters, Google is planning on launch its News Showcase product as early as next month.

Misha Ketchell, editor of the academic-penned newsite The Conversation, reportedly said on Wednesday he was approached by Google “to resume discussions about launching the News Showcase product as soon as possible, potentially in February. We are working with them on this”.

The decision to push ahead with the launch down under is an apparent show of Google’s willingness to run its own content deals, negating the need for government-mandated legislation.

A spokesman for Google in Australia reportedly declined to comment on Wednesday, but two other local publishers confirmed they had content details in place for the news site.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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