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July 5, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:08am

Guardian takes Google cash and signs up to News Showcase in the UK

By Dominic Ponsford

The Guardian has signed a deal with Google to take payments likely to be worth millions per year for content.

It is the latest UK publisher to sign up to Google News Showcase, a scheme launched in September 2020 through which the tech giant promised to pay publishers around the world $1bn for content over three years.

Despite signing up to Google News Showcase in Australia, The Guardian has held out from signing up in the UK (where the scheme launched in February 2021).

Press Gazette has asked about the size of The Guardian’s UK Google News Showcase deal. Our estimate is that it is worth £5m+ per year, because its Guardian Australia Showcase deal is reported to be worth £2.7m and the UK economy is roughly double that Down Under.

The Daily Mail group is now the only major mainstream UK commercial news publisher not to have taken Google News Showcase cash.

According to Google, some 240 news titles in the UK are now on the Google News Showcase scheme.

Guardian chief executive Keith Underwood said: “We are pleased to have expanded our partnership with Google to make our journalism available in digital, video and other formats in ways that will engage even wider audiences.

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“This new deal supports further investment in journalism and will bring a new audience back to our sites where we can build deeper relationships of enduring value.”

Google News Showcase has yet to launch in the US because publishers are still bartering over the size of their payments.

Under News Showcase Google pays publishers a monthly fee to maintain a newsfeed of headlines, pictures and website links on Google News and Google Discover.

Publishers of paywalled websites are also paid to offer some content for free. Payments are said to cover the curation costs of staff updating Google News Showcase.

News Corp has signed a global deal with Google which is believed to be worth $50m (£37m) a year.

Critics of Google News Showcase, such as US journalism academic Jeff Jarvis, have described it as an “envelope stuffed with cash” designed to placate publishers and stave off the threat of regulation across the globe.

Some publishers have reported receiving little meaningful traffic from Google Showcase.

The terms of Google News Showcase deals are secret but Press Gazette understands that one reason US publishers are rejecting the scheme is because of a contract clause stating Google does not owe them any money for content beyond Showcase payments. This could undermine efforts to negotiate more lucrative deals with Google in future backed by tougher regulation.

Publishers such as Daily Mail and General Trust may also take the view that taking Google money would undermine their position politically when it comes to arguing for greater regulation of technology platforms.

More local publishers have also signed up to Google News Showcase in the UK, where they make up 93% of titles with deals. The new brands include the National World website, Reach’s Belfast Live and Clear Sky’s North Devon Gazette, formerly of Archant.

National World’s group digital editor Mark Thompson said: “We believe it is vital that our stories, videos and images are given the value they deserve so that we can produce ever more insightful, reliable and relevant journalism for audiences all over the UK. News Showcase has enabled our teams based in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to display their impressive work on a great platform and in a meaningful way.”

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