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Google to pay $100M a year to Canadian news publishers in deal with Ottawa

News deal with Google

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.

Ottawa has agreed to set a $100-million yearly cap on payments that Google will be required to make to media companies when its controversial online news legislation takes effect at the end of the year.

The announced Wednesday has the Liberal federal government bending to the tech giant's demands after it threatened to remove news from its platform.

The Online News Act compels tech giants to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for the news content that appears on their sites, if that content contributes to revenues.

A formula in the government's draft regulations to implement the bill would have seen Google contributing up to $172 million to news organizations.

But Google signalled its disapproval for those regulations, saying it was expecting a figure closer to $100 million, based on what the company says is a previous estimate offered by Canadian Heritage officials.

The company appears to have gotten what it wanted after an extended period of negotiation.

Still, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge insisted Wednesday that the agreement was ultimately a win for the government and for the local news publishers it is seeking to support.

"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," she said in a statement.

"This will benefit the news sector and allow Google to continue to play an important role in giving Canadians access to reliable news content."

The deal will allow Google to comply with the legislation by paying into a single collective bargaining group that will serve as a media fund.

Meta's way of complying was to simply block all news content from Instagram and Facebook in Canada.

Last month, News Media Canada — a lobby group for hundreds of Canadian newspapers and magazines — said it agreed with many of the issues Google raised during the back-and-forth over how the bill would be implemented.

The group said there should be a cap on how much the search giant would have to pay under the law.

"Google plays an essential role in helping Canadians find trusted news sources, and we are confident there is a path forward for the company and publishers to continue what has been a mutually beneficial relationship for many years to come," the group's president and CEO Paul Deegan said at the time.

In addition to its financial contribution, Canadian Heritage said Google will continue to make programs available for Canadian news businesses, such as training, tools and resources for business development and support for non-profit journalism projects.

Google said on Wednesday that the deal means there will be immediate changes to existing agreements it has with publishers in Canada under its Google News Showcase agreements, which were part of a $1-billion global investment.

The company said it will review its ongoing investments in Canada when the final regulations are published.

Google wouldn't say how much it is already paying publishers under existing contracts, saying such agreements are confidential commercial arrangements.

Companies that fall under the Online News Act must have total global revenue of $1 billion or more in a calendar year, "operate in a search engine or social-media market distributing and providing access to news content in Canada" and have 20 million or more Canadian average monthly unique visitors or average monthly active users.

For now, Google and Meta are the only companies that meet those criteria.


ORIGINAL 9 a.m.

The federal Liberal government has reached a deal with Google over the Online News Act, following threats from the digital giant that it would remove news from its search platform in Canada.

A government official confirmed that news to The Canadian Press under condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the deal.

CBC News is reporting, citing an unnamed source, that the agreement would see Canadian news continue to be shared on Google's platforms in return for the company making annual payments to news companies in the range of $100 million.

A formula in the government's draft regulations for the bill would have seen Google contributing up to $172 million to news organizations — but Google had said it was expecting a figure closer to $100 million based on a previous estimate.

The legislation, which comes into effect at the end of the year, requires tech giants to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for news content that appears on their sites, if it helps the tech giants generate money.

Google had warned that it would block news from its search engine in Canada over the legislation, as Meta has already done on Instagram and Facebook.



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