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Google to Pay Canada News Publishers $73m a Year to Keep News in Search

Canada and Google have reached a deal to keep links to news stories in search results and for the tech giant to pay $73.6m annually, or C$100m, to news publishers in the country.

The deal resolves Alphabet-owned Google’s concerns over Canada’s Online News Act, which seeks to make large internet companies share advertising revenue with news publishers in the country.

“Following weeks of productive discussions, I am happy to announce that we have found a path forward with Google for the implementation of the Online News Act,” Canada’s heritage minister Pascale St-Onge said in a statement.

The Online News Act, part of a global trend to make internet giants pay for news, passed in June and the government is finalizing rules that are expected to be released by a 19 December deadline.

“Following extensive discussions, we are pleased that the Government of Canada has committed to addressing our core issues with Bill C-18,” Kent Walker, Alphabet’s president of global affairs, said in a statement. “We will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers.”

As part of the agreement with Canada, Google will annually contribute C$100m, indexed to inflation, to news businesses, and the company will have the option to work with a single collective to distribute the funds.

Google had previously threatened to block news on its search engine, a major source of traffic for nearly all websites on the internet, saying that Canada’s law was more stringent than the ones in Europe and Australia. The company said it was concerned it would be exposed to potentially uncapped liability.

“Google has agreed to properly support journalists, including local journalism,” Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said. “Unfortunately, Meta continues to completely abdicate any responsibility towards democratic institutions.”

Meta Platforms, the other internet giant that is the target of the law, has already blocked news sharing on Facebook and Instagram over its concerns. The move has embroiled the company in a months-long feud with large Canadian news publishers and strangled smaller publications.

St-Onge said the deal with Google shows that the new law works, and called on Meta to explain its decision to block news sharing in Canada.

She added Canada would be able to reopen the agreement with Google in the future if there are better agreements reached anywhere else in the world. Last month, Google reached an agreement to pay a group of German publishers 3.2m euros ($3.5m) a year for its publication of their news content.

Meta’s decision remains unchanged, according to a company statement. “Unlike search engines, we do not proactively pull news from the internet to place in our users’ feeds, and we have long been clear that the only way we can reasonably comply with the Online News Act is by ending news availability for people in Canada,” the spokesperson said.

The legislation came after complaints from Canada’s media industry, which wants tighter regulation of tech companies to prevent them from elbowing news businesses out of the online advertising market.

Paul Deegan, the chief executive officer of industry body News Media Canada, welcomed the agreement and thanked the government for ensuring cash compensation for publishers. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp broke the news of the deal earlier.

“We commend Google for their good faith, socially responsible approach,” Deegan added in a statement.

Meta has taken similar steps in the past. In 2021, it briefly blocked news from its platform in Australia after the country passed legislation that would compel tech companies to pay publishers for using their news stories. It later struck deals with Australian publishers.

Source: The Guardian