Google Starts Hosting News on
Internet search leader Google Inc. on Friday began hosting
material produced by The Associated Press and three other news
services on its own Web site instead of only sending readers to
The change affects hundreds of stories and photographs
distributed each day by the AP, Agence France-Presse, The Press
Association in the United Kingdom and The Canadian Press. It
could diminish Internet traffic to other media sites where those
stories and photos are also found — a development that could
reduce the online advertising revenue of newspapers and
Google negotiated licensing deals with the AP and French news
agency during the past two years after the services raised
concerns about whether the search engine had been infringing on
their copyrights. The Mountain View-based company also reached
licensing agreements with The Press Association and The Canadian
Press during the same period.
Financial terms of those deals haven't been disclosed.
The new approach doesn't change the look of Google News or
affect the way the section treats material produced by other
Although Google already had bought the right to display content
produced by all four news services, the search engine's news
section had continued to link to other Web sites to read the
stories and look at the photographs.
That helped drive more online traffic to newspapers and
broadcasters who pay annual fees to help finance the AP, a
161-year-old cooperative owned by news organizations.
Now, Google visitors interested in reading an AP story will
remain on Google's Web site unless they click on a link that
enables them to read the same story elsewhere. Google doesn't
have any immediate plans to run ads alongside the news hosted on
Although the change might not even be noticed by many Google
users, the decision to corral the content from the AP and other
news services may irritate publishers and broadcasters if the
move results in less traffic for them and more for Internet's
most powerful company.
A diminished audience would likely translate into less online
revenue, compounding the financial headaches of long-established
media already scrambling to make up for the money that has been
lost as more advertisers shift their spending to the Internet.
Google has been the trend's biggest beneficiary because it runs
the Internet's largest advertising network. In the first half of
this year, the 9-year-old company earned $1.9 billion on revenue
of $7.5 billion.
Despite Google's dominance in search, its news section lags
behind several other rivals. In July, Google News attracted 9.6
million visitors compared with Yahoo News' industry-leading
audience of 33.8 million, according to comScore Media Metrix.
Yahoo Inc., along with other major Web sites such as Microsoft
Corp.'s MSN and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, have been featuring AP
material for years.
Under its new approach, Google reasons readers won't have to
pore through search results listing the same story posted on
different sites. That should in turn make it easier to discover
other news stories at other Web sites that might previously have
been buried, said Josh Cohen, the business product manager for
"This may result in certain publishers losing traffic for their
news wire stories, but it will allow more room for their
original content," Cohen said.
Vlae Kershner, news director for the San Francisco Chronicle's
Web site, backed up that theory, saying Google News mostly
refers readers interested in the newspaper's staff-written
stories. "This is going to have a very minimal impact on our
traffic," he said.
Referrals from Google News accounted for 2.2 percent of the
traffic at newspaper Web sites during the week ending Aug. 25,
according to the research firm Hitwise.
Caroline Little, chief executive and publisher of
Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, said she worries about
anything that might erode her site's advertising revenue.
"That's how we make money," she said. "We will be watching this
For its part, the AP intends to work with Google to ensure
readers find their way to breaking news stories on its members'
Web sites, said Jane Seagrave, the AP's vice president of new
In recognition of the challenges facing the media, the AP froze
its basic rates for member newspapers and broadcasters this year
and already has committed to keeping fees at the same level next
That concession has intensified the pressure on AP to plumb new
revenue channels by selling its content to so-called
"commercial" customers on the Web. Those efforts helped the
not-for-profit AP boost its revenue by 4 percent last year to
"AP relies on its commercial agreements to help pay the enormous
costs of covering breaking news around the world, ranging from
deadly hurricanes and tsunamis to conflicts like the war in
Iraq," Seagrave said