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Don’t blame us for news businesses revenue decline: Google

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Sydney, Nov 23 (IANS): As Australia debates the draft News Media Bargaining Code that would govern the relationship between news businesses and digital platforms, Google on Monday said that making it responsible for decline in revenue of news publishers would amount to barking up the wrong tree.

Rather, news businesses are making less revenue because they began to face competition from websites that have taken classified advertising online, including Australian platforms like Seek and Domain, Google said.

“The reason news businesses are making less revenue is not because Google exists,” Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google wrote in a blog post.

In Australia, recent research from AlphaBeta makes clear that platforms like Seek and Domain have contributed to the vast majority of the recent decline in newspaper revenues.

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Google said its impact has been completely different: opening up an entirely new market, search advertising, helping small-to-medium businesses establish an online presence.

“The world has changed. Yet in advocating a code that serves their interests only, certain Australian news businesses are effectively arguing for the Australian Government to turn back time — to make the open internet significantly less open and its business models dramatically less diverse,” Cerf said.

The search engine giant also said that news content makes up a tiny proportion of the things people search for online — just 1 per cent, in Australia.

“One of the key arguments behind the code is the idea that Google should pay for news content that ‘is made available’ through Search results,” Cerf said, adding that links are the cornerstones of open access to information online and requiring a search engine (or anyone else) to pay for them “undermines one of the fundamental principles of the internet as we know it today.”

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According to the Australian government, the draft code would allow news media businesses to bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over payment for the inclusion of news on their services.

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Google said it is working with the Australian Government to resolve the evident issues with the draft code and bring balance into the final version of the law.

“Anything else would represent a backward step towards a world that no longer exists –not just for Australia’s digital economy, but for the open internet globally,” Cerf said.

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