Google to cut off California news publishers over ad revenue

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Google is now threatening to hold back news from California news publishers on its digital platforms. The search giant claims it is forced to take this drastic step in response to the pending California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA).

Content from California news publishers may have restricted reach and visibility

Google’s VP of global news partnerships, Jaffer Zaidi, mentioned in a detailed blog post, the company could severely curtail content from California,

“If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers.”

He indicated that during the testing phase, Google may start eliminating links from California news websites on its online platforms,

“The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

If that’s not threatening enough, Zaidi even reportedly indicated that Google will, “pause further investments in the California news ecosystem.” He may have been referring to multiple Google News programs involving product and licensing agreements for news organizations. Needless to say, he implied Google would cease to offer such programs to news outlets and publishers based in California.

Google is upset due to the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA). Supporters of the act claim big tech and social media companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others, pocket a much bigger chunk of revenue from online advertising. In other words, proponents argue tech giants are shortchanging publishers.

According to a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF), tech giants earn 50 cents from every dollar generated through fees. Meanwhile, subscriptions are subject to app store commissions, commonly called the Google Tax and Apple Tax. This leaves very little to the actual content creators, some experts claim.

Why is Google threatening to boycott content from California?

It is interesting to note that Google does not host ads on Google News. However, it is possible that collating links to news and related content, and curating the content, may be benefitting the big tech platform on a much larger scale than the actual publishers.

Several proponents of the CJPA argue the act is more of a leveraging tool. If not definitive, it could at least be a bargaining chip for publishers against behemoths like Google and Meta.

Google is currently threatening California-based news publishers. Needless to say, this is not the company’s first time. Moreover, this is not the first group of journalists and publishers that Google has threatened to either play ball or risk losing their audience.

Google threatened to pull out of Spain back in 2014 but had to return in 2022. Even Australian publishers had to fight the search giant using the News Media Bargaining Code. Google has regular tussles with mass-media publishing houses and journalists from multiple countries including, the USA, Canada, Germany, France, and more. It is important to see how resilient Californians respond.