Fb Information rolls in UK as tech giants begin paying for journalism

The logos of Facebook and Google apps are displayed on a tablet.

Denis Charlet | AFP via Getty Images

LONDON – Facebook announced that it will start rolling out its Facebook News product in the UK on Tuesday, paying publishers for their content.

Facebook News is a separate area within the Facebook app that contains curated and personalized news from hundreds of national, local and lifestyle publications.

The product, which competes with Apple News, was launched in the US and the UK last June and is the second country to gain access to it.

Facebook claims that the product “delivers informative, reliable and relevant news” to users while “highlighting original and authoritative reports on pressing issues”.

Jesper Doub, Europe’s European director for news partnerships, said in a blog post on Tuesday: “This is the start of a series of international investments in news.”

He added, “The product is a multi-year investment that will bring the original journalism to new audiences and give publishers more advertising and subscription opportunities to build sustainable businesses for the future.”

Facebook announced the launch of Facebook News in the UK in November and said it would feature content from media partners such as Conde Nast, Hearst, The Economist and Guardian Media Group.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced it had signed Channel 4 News, the Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, the Financial Times, Sky News and the Telegraph Media Group.

Some content that is usually behind a paywall can be displayed for free on Facebook News, which is expected to be published in other countries this year.

“We will continue to learn, listen to and improve Facebook News as it is rolled out across the UK and in other markets including France and Germany where we are in active negotiations with partners,” said Doub.

Technology giants like Facebook and Google are increasingly under pressure to pay media companies for their content.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC that the company would pay certain UK publications to post their content on Facebook Messages, but couldn’t reveal how much.

“We’re going to pay some publishers to participate in Facebook News,” he said. “We pay for content that isn’t already on the platform to provide diverse coverage across a range of subject areas.”

He added, “Monetizing for the majority of publishers appearing on Facebook messages is similar to monetizing through other Facebook tabs, from referral traffic to your sites or ads in instant articles, pushing people to reach a paywall.”

Google’s fight

Last week, Google signed a deal to pay French publishers and news outlets for their content.

The agreement came about after several months of talks between Google France and the media groups represented by the French lobby of the Alliance de la Presse d’Information Generale.

Google announced that it will be negotiating individual licenses with members of the alliance that cover related rights and open access to a new mobile service from the company called News Showcase.

The search giant said last year it was paying news publishers for the first time, a change in course from the internet giant that had refused to do so for years. The company agreed to a number of initial deals in Germany, Australia and Brazil and now appears to be expanding these to France.

However, when the Australian government proposed a new law that would force Google and Facebook to pay news publishers the right to link to their content, Google threatened to pull its widely used search engine out of the country.

“Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk of this version of the Code becoming law, we have no choice but to make Google search unavailable in Australia,” said Mel Silva, general manager of Google Australia and New Zealand . told a Senate committee last week.

Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, said at a press conference: “We do not respond to threats.”

– Additional coverage from CNBC’s Ryan Browne.

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