Google Reaches Out to Europe’s News Groups

The search engine giant has developed a new strategy for Europe; if the message isn’t to your taste, cozy up with the messengers. Less than two weeks after antitrust charges were filed against Google by the European Commission for abusing its dominant place in online search, the company said that it intended to spend $165 million in the next three years for helping European newspapers and publishers in adapting to the digital world. The Digital News Initiative is the name of the plan and Google is trying to use it for assuaging the fears of numerous European newspapers such as Germany’s Axel Springer that the search engine giant holds too much control over how online content is accessed by Europeans.

In the 28 member bloc, Google’s share is about 90%, which is greater than its stake in the American market. The creation of this program comes before additional potential problems for the company in Europe, which also includes some potential changes that will be made to the copyright rules of the company. The announcement of the proposals would be made on May 6th and they could require Google and other news aggregators to have to pay for using online content provided by European publishers.

Similar to the US, changing business models have been a major struggle for some European newspapers as print advertising goes into decline whereas publishers become more and more dependent on online traffic, especially from smartphones. With the $164 million fund being provided by Google, the publishers will be allowed to bid for grants that would enable them in creating new forms of digital journalism. The search giant also added that it would offer training to European journalists in digital skills and aid newspapers in creating products that would boost online revenue. It also said that as per the new program, the company would work FAZ and Die Zeit in Germany, La Stampa in Italy, The Financial Times and The Guardian in Britain, NRC Media in the Netherlands and Les Echos in France.

The company’s president of strategic partnerships in Europe said that its relationship with the news industry has been misunderstood over the years and said that they wished to play an important part in finding sustainable models for news. The efforts of the company for winning over skeptical publishers is in direct contrast with the heavy-handed approach it had used at the end of last year towards Spanish newspapers.

When there had been changes in Spanish rules that meant that Google and other news aggregators would have to pay for online content, the company chose to shut down its Google News Spain product in December. Spanish publishers were also barred from appearing in the firm’s global services of news aggregation. Some other European countries have also attempted to make Google pay for publishing snippets in its online service, but their attempts haven’t been much successful. German organizations had been banned last years when they passed rules about charging aggregating sites for articles, leading to a decline in online traffic to these websites. 

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