Google Australia boss Melanie Silva has scotched claims it exploits news content for profit and dismissed calls for the search giant and rival Facebook to pay up to $1 billion annually in compensation to publishers.
In a fiery blog post late on Sunday, Ms Silva said Google was working with the Morrison government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on ways to licence and pay for the display of news content, but claims made about its business model by publishers were “inaccurate” and “unfounded”.
“There’s been some recent talk about the profitability of online news in Australia, including the suggestion that online platforms should be forced to pay publishers $600 million or more every year,” Ms Silva said. “The direct economic value Google gets from news content in Search is very small. Google last year generated approximately $10 million in revenue—not profit—from clicks on ads against possible news-related queries in Australia.”
Media outlets including Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead) and News Corp Australia have argued publicly for annual payments of between $600 million and $1 billion from the tech platforms as part of a compulsory code being introduced by the competition regulator. Ms Silva said these figures were based on the idea that news accounts for 10 per cent of queries and generates 10 per cent of gross Australia revenues.