Life Tech Google backs down on threat to remove news search

Google backs down on threat to remove news search

google showcase australia
Run through Google's mobile app, the function takes users direct to news content. Photo: Getty
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Google has launched its “news showcase” initiative in Australia, a day after the company’s global boss met Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The pair discussed Google’s concerns with the federal government’s impending media code, which will force it and Facebook to pay news organisations for content.

Google had threatened to pull its search engine from Australia if it had to pay for links to news stories, and had said its news showcase feature was on hold.

But it has launched on Friday, after Mr Morrison had a meeting with Google’s global boss Sundar Pichai.

The showcase is accessed through Google’s mobile application, and allows users to read news direct from mastheads that is often behind paywalls.

Google Australia’s managing director Mel Silva told a recent Senate inquiry into the code that deals had been closed with seven companies, including Australian Community Media, InDaily, Solstice and Private Media.

Ms Silva said the initiative had a global budget of $1.3 billion over three years and paid news publishers for their editorial judgment to curate news for Google services.

Google has reached deals with more than 450 publications globally.

Microsoft was quick to raise its hand when Google suggested it might remove its search engine from the Australian market, with Mr Morrison and the communications minister showing interest.

The Senate inquiry probing the code’s underpinning deal is due to report by February 12.

The federal government has said it wants Google and Facebook to clinch deals with news companies of their own accord, with the code acting as a safety net if negotiations go awry.