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”, which could lead to data being handed over to “big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia”.

“The agreements we have signed in Australia and around the world show that not only are we willing to pay to license news content for a new product, but that we are able to strike deals with publishers without the draft code’s onerous and prescriptive bargaining framework and one-sided arbitration model,” Google wrote in a blog post penned by Australia and New Zealand VP Mel Silva.

“We don’t oppose a code, and a system for resolving disputes between parties. But the arbitration system outlined in the draft is unworkable.”

The code, as drafted, adopts a model based on negotiation, mediation, and arbitration to “best facilitate genuine commercial bargaining between parties, allowing commercially negotiated outcomes suited to different business models used by Australian news media businesses”.

The