Google has launched a controversial news platform in Australia in a sign that it has finally resigned itself to buying the news it had previously been republishing for free.
The tech giant launched its News Showcase platform in Australia last Friday amidst ongoing action by the Australian government to force it to pay for content it appropriates from local news outlets.
The debate over Australia’s proposed News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code legislation has at times been belligerent with Google Australia’s managing director telling a Senate hearing: “If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”
Google also had been experimenting with blocking Australian news publishers from search results.
The rhetoric and sabre rattling prompted Australia’s Prime Minister to hit back saying bullying tactics would not intimidate him.
And on February 3, Microsoft, perhaps rubbing its hands together with glee at the prospect of a Google-free Australian market signalled its support for the proposed legislation in a blog post by Microsoft President, Brad Smith.
But while Google’s temper tantrum appears to be over some Australian news outlets are not yet ready to negotiate a price for their news.
But that hasn’t stopped others from seizing the opportunity and 25 mastheads, including notable independent outlets the Saturday Paper and Crikey, have reached agreements for their content to appear in News Showcase. So for now, alternative search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo must wait in the wings for it seems Australia has missed a chance for a more equitable search landscape.