Google says it will start paying some publishers for their news content, in a move that could pave the way for reduced tensions between the internet search giant and the beleaguered news industry.

The search giant, which now claims the lion's share of online ad revenue in New Zealand and other markets, said today that it plans to launch this year a licensing program to pay publishers for "high-quality content."

The program will start with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil, "with more to come soon," Brad Bender, vice president of product management, said in a blog post.

"This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience," Bender said, describing it as a "significant step forward" in how the company will support high-quality journalism.


The program's articles will be available on Google's News and Discover services. Google will also pay for users to read paywalled articles.

The tech giant has been fighting the news industry's demands for compensation for years, in a battle that has taken on more urgency as the coronavirus pandemic caused advertising revenue at publishers to collapse.

In April, France's competition regulator ordered Google to pay publishers for using snippets of their content while Australia unveiled plans to make the company pay fair compensation for journalistic content siphoned from news media.

The first news companies to strike deals with Google include Germany's Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, Tagesspiegel and Rheinische Post, Australia's Schwartz Media, The Conversation, Private Media and Solstice Media and Brazil's Diarios Associados and A Gazeta.

Google is also said to be in talks with Australian Community Media, which publishes 160 rural titles.

Financial terms have not been revealed, although Google said they would vary according to a number of factors, including the volume of stories involved.

Some pundits across the Tasman have seen Google falling into line after a government threat to force the company to pay for news if it did not reach a voluntary agreement.

However, the two largest Australian publishers, Fairfax and News Corp are not included in the details.


Here, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi has hinted that some kind of crackdown on Google and Facebook could be included in the second phase of the goverment's assistance package for media. Timing and content are still up in the air, however.

Stuff owner Sinead Boucher said her company had not been in any talks with Google.

With reporting by AP