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Google to pay AFP for news after charged nearly $600M fine

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Google has agreed to pay Agence France-Presse for news content following a nasty legal and regulatory battle that saw the tech giant fined nearly $600 million by French authorities. 

The deal comes after years of complaints by news publishers around the world about Google and Facebook using stories in search results without paying them.

Some advertisers that used to support newspapers and magazines have also increasingly gravitated toward the tech giants, forcing many media organizations to scale back coverage and lay off journalists. 

Google and the AFP, a Paris-based news agency with bureaus around the world, both declined to disclose the value of the deal but said it will run for five years. In addition to Google paying AFP for news content, the two companies will collaborate on projects including fact-checking. 

“This agreement is a recognition of the value of information,” Fabrice Fries, Agence France-Presse’s chief executive, said in a statement.

In July, France’s antitrust regulator hit Google with a $593 million fine following complaints from AFP and major French newspapers including Le Monde and Le Figaro. The regulator accused Google of not properly complying with orders to negotiate with publishers in “good faith.” Google has appealed the fine. 

AFP chief Fabrice Fries praised the deal.
AFP chief Fabrice Fries praised the deal.
AFP via Getty Images
French CEO of AFP Fabrice Fries (R) poses with Google Vice president and Managing Director France Sebastien Missoffe at the AFP headquarters in Paris, on November 17, 2021.
French CEO of AFP Fabrice Fries (right) poses with Google vice president and managing director France Sebastien Missoffe at the AFP headquarters in Paris, on November 17, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

Prior to the fine, Google had agreed earlier this year to pay $76 million over the course of three years to a group of 121 French news publishers, not including AFP. However, that deal has been put on hold pending the outcome of the antitrust proceeding. 

France is not the first country to pressure Google and Facebook to pay news publishers. 

In February, Australia passed a law requiring Google and Facebook to pay for news — and New York Post parent company News Corp. negotiated its own global deal with Google to reportedly be paid “tens of millions” of dollars to provide news content during the same month.   

Agence France-Presse is a Paris-based news agency with bureaus around the world.
Agence France-Presse is a Paris-based news agency with bureaus around the world.
AFP via Getty Images
AFP has bureaus around the world.
AFP has bureaus around the world.
AFP via Getty Images

But News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch is still unhappy with Google and Facebook, accusing the companies of damaging news organizations and consumers through their dominance of the online ad space during his company’s call with investors on Wednesday. 

“Let us be very clear about the consequences of that digital ad market manipulation: Obviously, publishers have been materially damaged, but companies have also been overcharged for their advertising and consumers have thus paid too much for products,” Murdoch said.

Google has clashed with news publishers including AFP and News Corp. over paying for content.
Google has clashed with news publishers including AFP and News Corp. over paying for content.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

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