It appeared Sunday that Google may have a lifeline for struggling news publishers, but that might not be the case after all.
The Financial Times reported Sunday that the web giant is planning to share a chunk of its revenue with publishers. According to FT, Google’s plan is to mate its treasure trove of personal data with machine learning algorithms to help news publications grow their subscriber base.
But Google called the report “totally wrong,” adding that its subscriptions project is still in its early stages and there is no deal lined up with publishers.
“We have not reached any conclusions on the revenue side,” Google spokeswoman Maggie Shiels told CNET. “We haven’t reached any conclusions [regarding] subscriptions and need to speak to publishers.”
As readers have increasingly gone online for their news, newspapers have suffered declining subscriber numbers and lower advertising revenue, resulting in a dramatic industry contraction. Newspaper publishers and the Associated Press have blamed Google and other news-aggregation sites for their woes, leading to threats that they will delist their content and begin charging online readers.
The deal FT reported Google as offering to news publishers will reportedly be similar to the arrangement Google has with traditional advertisers through its AdSense business.
“We want to have a healthy ecosystem where we’ll benefit both as a society and with our business,” Richard Gingras, Google’s head of news, told the FT. “We are still working it out, we’re not experts in the subscription business, but the rev shares will be very, very generous.”
The move comes as Google moves to offer better search and ad solutions for news sites with paywalls. Bloomberg reported earlier this month that news search results for sites with paid subscriptions willin Google search.
First published Oct. 22, 10:56 a.m. PT.
Update, 1:20 p.m. PT: Adds Google comment.
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