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Amid mounting pressure from global media fraternity asking for a fair price and advertising share from technology platforms, Google on Tuesday announced the launch of its global licensing programme News Showcase in India. Launched in October 2020, Showcase pays news publishers for their content online and also allows partnering publishers to provide limited access to pay-walled stories for users.

Showcase, which is live in more than 12 countries working with over 700 publishers, is a part of Google's $1 billion investment towards supporting quality journalism.

Globally, tech platforms such as Google (Alphabet Inc.) and Facebook Inc have been facing pressure to provide rightful compensation to publishers with countries like Australia and France leading the movement asking for a fair price and share in advertising. In February, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) had also asked search engine Google to compensate newspapers for the use of content published by them and sought a larger share of its advertising revenue.

Google has sealed agreements with 30 Indian publishers to offer access to some of their content including HT Digital Streams Ltd, The Hindu Group, Indian Express Group, ABP LIVE, India TV, NDTV, Zee News, Amar Ujala, Deccan Herald, Punjab Kesari, The Telegraph India, IANS (Indo Asian News Service) and ANI, among others.

The content from these publishers will begin to appear in dedicated News Showcase story panels in Google News and on Discover pages in English and Hindi. The support for more local languages will be added in the future. It will also pay participating news organizations to give readers access to a limited amount of paywalled content.

“That’s something we are working on with each publisher individually," said Brad Bender, vice-president, Product Management, News, Google Inc.

However not all publishers are pleased with the arrangement. “News Showcase is a curated product where Google will pay publishers for a certain number of articles but not for the content that appear on its search engine. It is an article based syndication service, yet they get away with not paying for the rest of the content that appears on Google platforms," said top executive of a large publishing house and a member of the Indian Newspaper Society. He declined to be named.

He noted that news articles appearing on search are monetised by Google but the news organisation does not get paid for it. “They have to pay much more and compensate all publishers for original reporting," he added. The News Showcase product launch he said is meant more to appease publishers globally and it is unlikely to make much of a difference for them. “Google will continue to benefit from the credibility of the content that news organisations are producing," he said.

Suparna Singh, head, NDTV Convergence, the digital arm of television news broadcaster NDTV, however, said, “News Showcase will help highlight our premium content to an audience that follows our news regularly. Google’s effort to support journalism in India at a time when publishers are rightly seeking better compensation for their content is very welcome."

The company also announced that under its Google News Initiative (GNI) program, it will train 50, 000 journalists and journalism students in strengthening their digital skills to aid reporting and combat misinformation online. It said it will invest in product training sessions and implementation support to help more than 800 small and mid-sized Indian news organizations in growing their digital ad revenue.

“From business point of view, we know life will become tougher for businesses in these challenging times. We want to collaborate with news publishers to help them engage with readers and make data-driven decisions to improve their business and reporting efforts," said Sanjay Gupta, vice president, Google India.

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