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French Newspapers Partner To Sidestep Google News

A group of six French newspapers is partnering to create an online news site that they hope will be an alternative to Google News. France’s National Daily Press Union announced the plan yesterday and said the virtual newsstand will be launched in September.

According to the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper blog, the French newspapers are reacting against Google’s unwillingness to share ad revenues from Google News:

The maneuver comes months after Google announced its intention to include advertising on its news aggregation system. French newspapers had tried to negotiate with Google to receive a percentage of the ads revenues. But, as their request was denied, they have decided to launch a paid service of their own.

Update, July 27: The SFN blog has since amended its story to remove the paragraph above after being contacted by a Google spokesperson who explained that Google doesn’t currently display ads on the French version of Google News.

SFN Blog says Le Monde, LibĂ©ration, Le Figaro, Les Echos, Le Parisien and L’Equipe are the initial partners in the news site, and other papers and magazines are expected to join later.

One of the newspapers said yesterday that monetizing the news content is the main goal of this new web site. Google is reportedly developing NewsPass, a micropayment system that would presumably allow allow papers to charge for content found in Google News and Google search.

What’s not clear is if these newspapers will continue to allow their content to appear in Google News.

France has had several run-ins — or perhaps objections is a better word — with Google in recent years. Agence France-Presse sued Google News for copyright violations back in 2005. The French government has been vocal in its opposition to the Google Book Search settlement. And earlier this year, the French government began looking into ways to tax Google.

Postscript: Google has shared an unsolicited statement about the French initiative described above:

We welcome new attempts to find technologies and business models that will help journalism flourish online. We value quality journalism, which is why we work with news partners around the world to help them attract bigger audiences and generate revenue. That’s what Google News is all about, and we’re happy to see any new experimentation and innovation in this space.

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