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Google to Pay Australia Media Company to Host News Material

A Google sign is shown at one of the company's office complexes in Irvine.

The information technology giant Google has agreed to pay an Australian media company to host news material ahead of a planned mandatory bargaining code.

Google’s deal with Seven West Media, which publishes the Perth-based West Australian newspaper and other titles, is the first of seven such arrangements the tech giant is expected to make in Australia.

A law being introduced this week in federal parliament in Canberra would require large technology companies to pay to use Australian news stories.

The legislation would make Australia the first country to force big tech firms to pay for news content.

Google, which had called the law unworkable, and Facebook have threatened to downgrade their services to Australians or even walk away. They have argued that by using stories from other publishers they generate more internet traffic for the websites run by traditional media outlets.

But in an apparent softening of that stance, Google has reached an agreement with Seven West Media, reportedly worth $23 million a year.

Belinda Barnett is a lecturer in media at Swinburne University of Technology, a public research university based in Melbourne. She believes it is a good result for the Australian company.

“It does sound like they have come up with a fairly lucrative deal for them, around AUD$30 million, but that figure has not been confirmed yet. Seven West owns quite a lot of regional outlets as well. So, it has the potential to benefit the regional news outlets that it owns and the journalists employed by them,” Barnett said.

The Australian government said a deal with Facebook was “very close.”

As their advertising revenues collapsed, traditional broadcasting and publishing companies have for years complained that social media platforms have benefited from their quality reporting without paying for it.