Google makes billions from news sites in 2018, study finds

This file illustration picture shows the US multinational technology and Internet-related services company Google logo displayed on a tablet in Paris on February 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019

Google makes billions from news sites in 2018, study finds

  • Many media companies and artists backed the EU move aimed at getting revenue from web platforms

WASHINGTON: Google took in some $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018 from “crawling and scraping” news websites without paying publishers, according to an industry-sponsored study released Monday which was disputed by the tech giant and media analysts.
The study by the News Media Alliance underscores industry arguments about Google and other online giants harming traditional news organizations by dominating the Internet news ecosystem and ad revenues generated through it.
According to the study, Google has increasingly monetized news content as it works to keep consumers in its ecosystem, and that news searches helps the Internet giant gather data from its users to help tailor its other products.
The report is expected to be presented this week to a congressional hearing on antitrust abuses by Big Tech firms and to support legislation that would allow news organizations exemptions from antitrust to negotiate digital revenues.
Google disputed the findings of the study, as did some media analysts.
“These back of the envelope calculations are inaccurate as a number of experts are pointing out,” a Google spokesperson said.
“The overwhelming number of news queries do not show ads. The study ignores the value Google provides. Every month Google News and Google Search drive over 10 billion clicks to publishers’ websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue.”
Other analysts also voiced skepticism about the methods and conclusions of the study by the media group previously known as the Newspaper Association of America.
Jeff Jarvis, a City University of New York journalism professor, called the study flawed, in part because it relies on “snippets” in search results.
“Snippets in search are NOT content,” Jarvis said on Twitter. “They are links TO the publishers. Google does not monetize Google News. When it makes money on news it’s by serving ads ON publishers’ sites.”
Temple University professor Aron Pilhofer said the study fails to consider how Google drives users to news websites where publishers can generate revenue.
“Even if you accept the methodology (which I do not), I think it’s fair to also account for all the traffic Google is pushing to publisher sites, wouldn’t it? This is just silly,” Pilhofer tweeted.
The study comes months after the European Union adopted a hotly contested copyright law that could require Google and other online giants to pay publishers for news content in search results.
Many media companies and artists backed the EU move aimed at getting revenue from web platforms. But the law was strongly opposed by Internet freedom activists and by Silicon Valley on concerns it could chill the sharing of information.


REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

Updated 17 August 2019

REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

CHENNAI: The first season of “Sacred Games” last year was a hit, and the second edition, which began streaming on Netflix on Aug. 15, may be even more so.

The eight episodes explore some of India's most pressing current issues such as a nuclear threat, terrorism and inter-religious animosity dating back to the country's 1947 partition. It. It also addresses how religious men can indulge in the most unholy of acts, including helping corrupt politicians.

Some of the greatest films have had conflict and war as their backdrop: “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca,” “Ben-Hur” and “Garam Hawa,” to mention a few. The second season of “Sacred Games” also unfolds in such a scenario, with terrorism and inter-communal disharmony having a rippling effect on the nation.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap (“Gangs of Wasseypur,” “Black Friday”) and Neeraj Ghaywan (“Masaan,” which premiered at Cannes in 2015), the web series, based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel, unfolds with Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) escaping from prison and finding himself in Mombasa. He has been carted there by an agent of India's

Research and Analysis Wing, Kusum Devi Yadav (Amruta Subhash), who forces him to help find Shahid Khan (Ranvir Shorey), the mastermind behind bomb blasts and terror attacks.

In Mumbai, police inspector Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan) has just two weeks to save the city from a nuclear attack, which Gaitonde had warned him about. Both men love Mumbai and do not want it to be destroyed. But religious extremist Khanna Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi) and his chief disciple Batya Ableman (Kalki Koechlin) believe that only such a catastrophic destruction can help cleanse society and bring a cleaner, saner new order.

A narrative of deceit, betrayal, love and longing, the second season has a plodding start, but picks up steam from the fourth episode, with Sartaj and his men racing against time to find a nuclear time bomb that could wipe out Mumbai. Crude dialogue and a constant doomsday atmosphere could have been avoided, but riveting performances by the lead pair – Khan and Siddiqui (though he is getting typecast in this kind of role) – and nail-biting thrills make this Netflix original dramatically captivating.