Seven West Media today said it has struck a deal with Google for use of the publisher’s news content in the tech giant’s news service, Showcase.

The announcement comes as the Australian government reportedly considers more late concessions to Google and Facebook in its world first media laws.

Google launched Showcase two weeks ago including partnerships with The Canberra Times, The Illawarra Mercury, The Saturday Paper, Crikey, The New Daily,  InDaily and The Conversation.

News Showcase is a licencing program where Google pays news publishers to curate their content to be used across Google’s services. Publishers negotiate individual deals with Google – which says it has budgeted $3.3 billion globally for Showcase but declined to say how much it expects to go to Australian publishers.

Google insists Showcase is a better way of paying publishers for content than the Australian government’s News Media Bargaining Code which remains “unworkable” and creates unmanageable risk, according to Google.

The code includes final offer arbitration and effectively forces Facebook and Google – the two dominant companies the code was developed to address – to pay for news content shared on the tech giants’ platforms, with tough penalties for non-compliance.

Australian publishers News Corp, Nine and Guardian Australia have lobbied for the code and dismissed Google’s alternative as insufficient compensation for the use of their content.

On Monday Seven West Media said it has signed a letter of understanding with Google to enter into a long term partnership with Google based on Showcase, subject to a long form agreement within the next 30 days.

Seven West Media Chairman Kerry Stokes said the debate around the code, which has gathered global attention, had helped expedite negotiations with Google.

“… the implementation of the proposed News Media Bargaining Code has resulted in us being able to conclude negotiations that result in fair payment and ensure our digital future,” he said in a statement.

“The negotiations with Google recognise the value of quality and original journalism
throughout the country and, in particular, in regional areas.”

With the underlying legislation set to be debated in Parliament this week, the New Media Bargaining Code could be law by the end of the month.

Late changes

On Sunday the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Australian government is considering allowing Google and Facebook to not pay for publishers for content that appears in their two most popular services – Google search and Facebook newsfeed – if they convince them to sign up for their news products Showcase and Facebook News.

The late changes would be seen as another significant concession to the tech giants after months of tough talk about calling the bluff of the tech giants which are threatening to withhold services from Australian users because of the code.

Industry sources told The Sydney Morning Herald the government has indicated it will delay designating Google and Facebook’s search and newsfeed as services to be covered by the code which was effectively designed for them. 

The delay would give the tech giants more time to sign up publishers to their news service, which Google and Facebook would prefer to be covered bt the code. 

The government s also reportedly considering allowing non payment by Google and Facebook to publishers for stories users read after finding them on the platforms.

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