Google says it supports Australian media and not to blame for newspaper classifieds decline

Tech giant defends how it supports Australia's news media industry.

Google has stated that while it does not object to there being a news media bargaining code, it disagrees with the one that has been proposed.

"Just to be clear -- Google does not object to the idea of an Australian Code to oversee relationships between news businesses and digital platform," it said in its latest blog post published on Monday.

"We have already made agreements to pay publishers for content through a licencing program and several Australian publishers have come on board.

"But what we don't agree with is a law that's totally unworkable from a product and business perspective. We know that many voices have called for changes to the current draft law."

Google went on to explain how it currently "supports" and does not "use" nor steal news content.

"We link you to [stories], just like we link you to every other page on the web -- think Wikipedia entries, personal blogs, or business websites … how we connect people with news content … is no different than the way Search connects you to your footy team's home page, a website with your favourite recipes, or official government websites," it wrote.

The search giant also reinforced how it does not make money from the news content because it's "not financially lucrative for us", pointing out how last year, news content generated a mere AU$10 million in revenue.

Rather Google makes money from ads, and only if a user clicks on them.

"People come to Google to find many things, whether it's 'how to' videos, recipes, sport scores, weather forecasts, outfit ideas, or home insurance," it wrote.

"News is only a very small part of this content, and represents a tiny proportion of search queries. In fact, we looked at all the billions of searches that Australians typed into Google over the past year, and found that just over 1% of these were news-related."

Google added it supports Australia's news media businesses by passing on the "vast majority" of money advertisers pay them directly to Australian publishers.

"For many years we've helped publishers make money by providing tools and technology that helps them sell advertising on their sites. Businesses which advertise with Google can choose to have their ads appear on news publishers' sites with a few clicks," it said.

"This removes a lot of the hard work for Australian publishers and gives them access to a huge range of new advertisers -- often overseas -- who work with Google."

It also pointed out how it's not the one to blame for the decline in newspaper revenue in Australia. It cited how a study by AlphaBeta showed the loss of revenue was primarily due to the loss of classified ads to online classified businesses such as Domain, Realestate.com.au, Carsales, and Seek. 

"Between 2002 and 2018, newspaper revenue fell from AU$4.4 billion to AU$3.0 billion. Of that decline, 92% was from the loss of classified ads, and most of these classified revenues went to specialist online providers that target niches such as job advertisements, second-hand goods, or real estate listings. Almost none went to Google," Google said.

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