Google News Returns To Spain After 2014 Closure


After an eight year absence, Alphabet re-opens its Google News service for users in Spain, after a dispute over publisher payments

Alphabet has reopened Google News in Spain on Wednesday, eight years after it shut down the service in that country.

Google’s news service in Spain was shut down in December 2014 in response to legislation which meant it had to pay a mandatory collective licensing fee to re-publish headlines, or snippets of news.

Google at the time took exception to that new law, nicknamed the ‘Google tax‘. Alphabet instead closed down Google News in Spain on 16 December 2014.

Google News

But today is a different world, and Google has agreements in place around the world to pay local publishers for linking to their content.

Last November Alphabet said it was planning to restore the Google news service in Spain.

It took this decision after the Spanish government passed new legislation that allows media outlets to negotiate directly with the tech giant.

The Spanish government had approved a European Union copyright directive passed in 2019, that permits third-party online news platforms to negotiate directly with content providers.

The return of Google News to Spain was noted by Fuencisla Clemares, Google’s VP for Iberia, in a blog post.

“Today, on the global 20th anniversary of Google News, and after an almost eight-year hiatus, Google News is returning to Spain,” she wrote. “This is thanks to an updated copyright law allowing Spanish media outlets – big and small – to make their own decisions about how their content can be discovered and how they want to monetise that content.”

Clemares noted that Google News is available in 125 countries and in 40 languages.

And she pointed to research, which showed that news consumption in Spain fell when Google had to shut down Google News in 2014, and this led to a 10 percent reduction in traffic to Spanish publishers’ websites – with the greatest impact on smaller publishers.

Clemares also noted the firm planned to launch Google News Showcase, its vehicle for paying news publishers, as soon as possible in Spain.

News Showcase

Since late 2020 onwards, Google has been signing content deals with local publishers around the world, as part of its News Showcase scheme.

The Google News Showcase scheme was first mooted back in June 2020, as a way to compensate news publishers initially in Australia, Brazil, and Germany for the news they produce.

CEO Sundar Pichai then pledged $1 billion (£778m) over three years to the News Showcase scheme.

In February 2021 Google signed a UK deal with News Corp to that it will provide premium content for the Google News Showcase offering, in return for “significant payments” from Google.

Google also signed agreements with local news and content publishers in Australia, after agreeing to restart its News Showcase scheme in that country.

Google also agreed to pay $76 million (£55m) to French news publishers under the terms of a deal to end a copyright dispute.