Google Halts Links to California News Sites

Google is pulling links to California news sites ahead of pending news-focused legislation.

That bill, dubbed the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), would require Google to pay for providing news content.

Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president of global news partnerships, said in a Friday (April 12) blog entry that the tech giant would conduct “a short-term test for a small percentage of California users” to study how the proposed legislation would impact the company’s products. 

“Until there’s clarity on California’s regulatory environment, we’re also pausing further investments in the California news ecosystem, including new partnerships through Google News Showcase, our product and licensing program for news organizations, and planned expansions of the Google News Initiative,” Zaidi wrote.

“To be clear, we believe CJPA undermines news in California,” he added. “We don’t take these decisions lightly,” and wanted to avoid “an outcome where all parties lose and the California news industry is left worse off.”

Buffy Wicks, the California assembly member behind the CJPA, told Bloomberg News last week that she would stay in dialogue with Google.

“This is a bill about basic fairness — it’s about ensuring platforms pay for the content they repurpose,” she said. “We are committed to continuing negotiations with Google and all other stakeholders to secure a brighter future for California journalists and ensure that the lights of democracy stay on.”

As PYMNTS wrote last year, the legislation would require tech giants such as Google and Meta to pay publishers a “journalism usage fee” when they use local news content and sell advertising along with it, and will require publishers to invest 70% of the profits from the fee in journalism jobs.

The bill has drawn the support of the 800-member California News Publisher Association (CNPA), which advocates for quality journalism, free press and fair compensation for locally produced news.

Meta, meanwhile, said it would remove news from Facebook and Instagram if the bill became law and it was forced to pay.

Were the CPJA to pass, it would create a “slush fund” that would benefit big media companies and that Meta would refuse to pay into, according to a company statement shared on social media last year.

“The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves and that substantial consolidation in California’s local news industry came over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used,” the statement said.

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