ACCC code sees Google pause Australian rollout of News Showcase

Google has paused the Australian rollout of News Showcase, which is a news-based service pitched by the company as benefiting both publishers and readers.

News Showcase was only announced earlier this month, and when it was initially launched in Germany and Brazil, CEO Sundar Pichai explained the platform was aimed at paying publishers to “create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience”.

Although Google said it signed several agreements with Australian publishers for News Showcase in June, it has decided to pause its Australian plans as it is not sure if the product would be viable under the impending media bargaining code of practice published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Google has held firm that it is against the News Media Bargaining Code, saying previously it would force the tech giant to provide users with a “dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube”,

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Google attacks extreme ways of ACCC news media bargaining code

Google has continued its fight against Australia’s news media bargaining code, this time attacking the final offer arbitration process, known as baseball arbitration, that will be used.

In such a process, rather than parties agreeing to a deal, an arbitrator is presented with a final offer from each side and must select one of the offers presented. Google is arguing that Australia’s old media are asking for sums far in excess of what Google generates from searches related to news, which it says is around AU$10 million in revenue.

“Clearly, both sides have very different ideas of what the prices should be — and asking the arbitrator to pick a ‘final offer’ is an extreme way of resolving that,” Google ANZ chief Mel Silva said in a blog post.

“The reality is that baseball arbitration often fails and doesn’t produce quick outcomes. Independent economists have raised questions about its effectiveness.”

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