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Google announces 150m euros for European media partners
Internet giant Google announced on Tuesday that it will invest 150 million euros to help develop online news publishers here in Europe over the next three years, as part of a wider package of support to help partners earn money from online coverage. As the company faces antitrust charges in Europe, initial reactions suggested the initiative would go some way to appeasing media outlets.
Google announced the establishment of the Digital News Initiative at a media conference in London.
It features high-profile backing in the form of partnerships with eight major European media, including French newspaper Les Echos and British papers the Guardian and the Financial Times, as well as three media associations.
Google said it would use the funds to work with these partners to find ways of boosting revenue through the use of ads, apps, paywalls and analytics data.
The initiative will also provide training for journalists and carry out research into consumer behaviour and crowdsourcing.
The company indicated it felt a need to repair relations with news publishers that have long criticised it for the way it displays content in search results.
“I firmly believe that Google has always wanted to be a friend and partner to the news industry but I also accept we’ve made some mistakes along the way,” said Carlo D’Asoro Biondo, head of Google’s strategic relationships with Europe.
The initial reaction from news publishers was mostly positive.
“Any investment in research and to help the media generally develop new processes and new platforms has got to be of interest and has got to be valuable,” said Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors in Britain.
The announcement comes two weeks after the European Commission began a legal procedure accusing Google of abusing its monopoly on search results in Europe.
If the case goes to trial, Google could be forced to pay hefty fines and change the way it displays search results in Europe.
The Digital News Initiative is not a direct response to those charges but it will probably be perceived as an effort to improve its image at a time when the antitrust case is certain to keep it in the European news.
Observers say, however, that does not mean the announcement is without real substance.
“One hundred fifty euros is some kind of substance,” Satchwell said.
“If organisations feel the need to improve their image, they do things that are right in the first place,” he told RFI by phone. “Whatever the reason they are doing it, it is a potentially valuable contribution to the way media might work in the future.”