Why Google Could Pay Billions to US Publishers in 2024


An agreement struck earlier this month between Google and the Canadian government on behalf of the news industry has added further momentum to similar legislative efforts in the U.S., according to News/Media Alliance president and CEO Danielle Coffey.

In December, Google agreed to pay the Canadian news media C$100 million ($75 million) annually, fixed to inflation, to continue sharing links to Canadian news outlet pages. 

Using the arrangement as precedent, the U.S. news media could expect to secure a similar compensation model from the search engine, potentially as soon as next year, Coffey said on the Local Market Trends podcast. In the U.S., however, the total dispensation could amount to billions of dollars.

“Definitely billions,” Coffey said on the podcast. “Even with the lowest numbers that we’ve seen around the world, when translated to the U.S. economy and market share, it’s definitely a B. And we believe that B should be plural.”

A potential payout of that magnitude would represent an enormous development for the U.S. news media, which in 2023 suffered one of its worst commercial years in decades. Fears of a recession, persistent inflation and an ongoing shift in marketing budgets led publishers across the industry to endure multiple waves of layoffs and closures.

The domestic news industry has proposed similar compensation models in the past, arguing that platforms like Google and Meta should pay to distribute publishers’ content in the same way that cable providers pay retransmission fees to carry broadcast companies’ content.

While the television industry is larger than the news media, in 2022 it generated $14.5 billion from retransmission and carriage fees alone, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“We encourage policymakers to consider approaches that incentivize free market collaboration and the development of mutually beneficial commercial models that can provide enduring support for the ecosystem, while also respecting the open web and the free expression it enables,” a representative for Google said in a statement.

Parallels in California’s compensation law

A bill proposed in California offers the closest parallel to the news media compensation laws passed in other countries, according to Coffey.

The California Journalism Preservation Act has proffered similar terms, mandating that technology platforms with more than 50 million monthly users and a market cap of more than $550 billion pay news publishers when surfacing their content.

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