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Google Drops Oz From News Push: ACCC Cops Blame

SYDNEY/SAN FRANCISCO: Google has postponed the inclusion of Australian news content in the roll-out of its News Showcase, citing “regulatory complications”.

Australia, Germany and Brazil were named three months ago as markets where the Internet giant would start paying publishers to feature their news.

Google will launch its News Showcase this week, though not with Australian content, because the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is pushing for laws to make Google pay royalties for content that it uses.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims plans to make a final recommendation this month on just how much tech platforms should pay for Australian news.

Google said it has therefore “paused” contracts with five local publishers whose news was due to feature on News Showcase.

The decision is seen as significant because Australia’s attempts to extract payment from the tech giant are being watched closely by governments around the world.

On the weekend, Google said it would pay US$1 billion to publishers globally for their news over three years. But the initiative has raised concerns among some industry bodies which say it gives Google too much sway over terms of royalty payments.

Google claims the ACCC’s stance has put its flagship search engine under threat. Facebook, meanwhile, has threatened to pull all Australian news items from its Web pages if it has to pay.

After initially applauding Google’s decision to pay for content, NewsCorp, a vocal critic of the tech giant, is certain to launch the wrath of Rupert Murdoch in the search engine’s direction.

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