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Google launches News Showcase in Australia

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Google has launched its “news showcase” initiative in Australia, a day after the company’s global boss met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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The pair discussed Google’s concerns with the federal government’s impending media code, which forces it and Facebook to pay news organisations for content.

Google had threatened to pull its search engine from Australia if it had to pay for links to news stories, and had said its news showcase feature was on hold.

But it has launched on Friday, after Morrison had a meeting with Google’s global boss Sundar Pichai.

The showcase is accessed through Google’s mobile application, and allows users to read news direct from mastheads that is often behind paywalls.

Google Australia’s managing director Mel Silva told a recent Senate inquiry into the code that deals had been closed with seven companies, including Australian Community Media, InDaily, Solstice Media (publisher of InQueensland) and Private Media.

Ms Silva said the initiative had a global budget of $1.3 billion over three years and pays news publishers for their editorial judgment to curate news for Google services.

Google has reached deals with more than 450 publications globally.

Microsoft was quick to raise its hand when Google suggested it might remove its search engine from the Australian market, with Morrison and the communications minister showing interest.

The Senate inquiry probing the code’s underpinning deal is due to report by February 12.

The federal government has said it wants Google and Facebook to clinch deals with news companies of their own accord, with the code acting as a safety net if negotiations go awry.

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