Google 'like a newsagent or retailer who doesn't pay', says publishers' group

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Google's Mel Silva is "missing the point" when it likens its platform to a newsagent or retailer, NewsMediaWorks chief executive Peter Miller says.

In a response to comments about the Australian government's plans for mandatory control of the relationship between the search giant and publishers, Miller says the difference is that while both "have built their businesses off the back of news, only newsagents pay for the publications and content they distribute".

Last week, the platform's Australian managing director and vice president described Google as the digital version of a retailer, newsstand or kiosks, providing traffic to publishers free of charge. In a blog post, sheclaimed Google was already working with publishers "in good faith", and had done so until the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission "moved the bench posts".

Google had welcomed recommendation of a voluntary code to govern the relationships between digital platforms and companies with news media interests, but she felt the need to respond to "allegations about the business" in light of the mandatory code ruling.

"In the offline print world, publishers have long paid retailers, newsstands and kiosks to distribute their newspapers and magazines - acknowledging the value of acquiring audiences to a publishers' content and the advertising publishers sell alongside it," said Silva (pictured). She claimed the traffic Google sends to publishers "has substantial value", with everyone benefitting from the exchange.

Of the federal directive for the ACCC to develop a mandatory code, Miller says this is to "address the imbalance in bargaining power" between digital platforms and news media businesses.

"It is clear, notwithstanding protestations of the digital platforms that they are working constructively with publishers, the Government and the ACCC were unconvinced of progress in getting to the nub of the issue - digital platforms coming to terms with their bargaining power being recalibrated so that they pay for news," he says.

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