Google says it will reduce some user access to California news sites

Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

The California News Publishers Assn. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Supporters of the California bill said it would help level the playing field for journalism outlets that have been struggling with gaining enough digital subscriptions to survive .

"Just to understand the difference in market dynamics, just consider that Google earns enough advertising revenue to pay for the [annual] cost of our newsroom in less than three hours," said Chris Argentieri, president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Times at a hearing last year discussing the bill. "Google's revenue for a month or two would cover the cost of all working journalists in California.

"Large digital platforms like Google and Meta use our content to generate billions of dollars in revenue and do not compensate us for it," Argentieri said. "The size of the companies makes it impossible for us or anyone in our industry, for that matter, to have a seat at the table to resolve this issue through normal business channels."

Critics of the bill, including Google, say that it would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds and put smaller outlets at a disadvantage.


The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm said it has partnered with more than 7,000 global news publishers through its Google News Initiative, including 6,000 journalists in California, but Zaidi said the company was pausing expansion of that initiative "until there's clarity on California's regulatory environment."

The initiative has helped provide grants and training to journalists on digital tools. Just 2% of queries on Google search are news-related, Zaidi wrote.

"By helping people find news stories, we help publishers of all sizes grow their audiences at no cost to them," Zaidi wrote. "CJPA would up-end that model."

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