Winner declared in Google stoush

The government is claiming victory in its fight with tech giants over news content after Google reportedly struck a $30m deal with Nine.

Google striking “fair and generous” deals with Australian news outlets is proof the government’s media bargaining code is working, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says.

Google has reportedly struck a $30m annual deal to pay Nine Entertainment Co for its news content, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, which is owned by Nine.

Facebook and Google were vehemently opposed to the bargaining code, which would force them to pay Australian news outlets for their content.

But Mr Frydenberg said Google had decided to come to the table after being “left in doubt about the Morrison government’s resolve”.

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“Everything I have heard from parties, both in the news media business and in terms of digital platforms, is that these are generous deals, these are fair deals, these are good deals,” he said on Wednesday.

The five-year deal could be rubber-stamped within a fortnight.

Nine would become the second Australian media outlet to sign a letter of intent with Google after Seven West Media announced its own $30m deal on Monday.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the report.

Facebook has yet to confirm any agreements with Australian media outlets.

But Mr Frydenberg said he was “heavily involved” in positive discussions with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai over the weekend.

“What became clear to me in those discussions with Google and with Facebook is that they do want to enter into these commercial arrangements. That is their preference,” he said on Wednesday.

“The preference is to see these commercial arrangements in place, and that is why I back the speed of these negotiations has picked up.”

Seven chairman Kerry Stokes said on Monday the company’s “groundbreaking” deal provided “fair payment” and ensured its digital platforms remained viable.

The government is preparing to pass its media bargaining code, which was endorsed by a Senate committee after an acrimonious two-day public hearing.

Google threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia if the bargaining code passed.

It said it was willing to pay news outlets via its Google Showcase function but did not want to pay for content appearing in searches.

The Nine deal struck would sit outside the search function but cover its newspapers, television, radio and digital assets, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Facebook said it could bar Australians users from accessing and sharing news on its platforms, while chief executive officer Mr Zuckerberg unsuccessfully lobbied Mr Frydenberg to walk back his plan.

Google conceded it had temporarily prevented some Australian users from accessing news sites as part on an “experiment” it claimed was necessitated by the proposal.

The government has encouraged tech giants to strike deals with news outlets outside of the code.

But the laws would force tech giants to pay a rate determined by an independent body if an agreement was not reached.

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