Google doesn't need newspaper content, says UK head

Matt Brittin, Google’s UK director, said today the search giant didn’t need newspaper content to for it to prosper.

Speaking on a panel looking at the future development of the newspaper industry, at the Society of Editors conference in Essex, Brittin told delegates that news content was not a big part of how Google made its revenue.

He said: “Does Google need news content to survive? No. If you look at the amount of advertising we serve around news content in Google News it’s zero.

“In Google search, when you search for news stories, there is almost never any advertising round it. Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue.”

News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said earlier this month that he would remove his newspaper content from Google and other search engines to prevent them “stealing stories”.

Murdoch added that he might also legally challenge the definition of free use of content that allows search engines to display a snippet of information from newspaper websites in its search listings.

Brittin, a former Trinity Mirror executive, told delegates that talk of removing content from the search company’s index was a “political statement” and that beneath the headlines Google was acting as a technology provider to many newspaper groups.

Publishers benefited, he added, from using Google search technology on their websites and made money through Google’s advertising technology.

He said: “The users of the internet, what you call your readership, expect to find quality content online.

“One of the reason we are working with a lot of publishers to help them have their content found in the right way is because we believe the internet needs to have quality content on it. We are working with many publishers to try and support that.

“The value of news to consumers is all about finding great content online, so it’s important to us that great journalism makes that transition from print to being multi-channel.”

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