European Publishers Council chief: Google must offer funds Europe wide

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A senior figure in the European publishing community has called on Google to extend an offer it made to French publishers last week across Europe.

The head of the European Publishers Council, Francisco Pinto Balsemao, has called for the search engine giant to offer similar funds, such as the €60 million deal it has agreed with the French media - to all European media companies.

His statement comes after the French President, Francois Hollande, and Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, announced last week that the two had finally put their differences aside, with the Internet firm agreeing to create a €60 million (£52m) Digital Publishing Innovation Fund to help the French media adapt to the world of online reporting.

Speaking to Reuters, the head of the European Publishers Council, Francisco Pinto Balsemao, said: "Search engines get more than 90% of revenues from online advertising and a substantial part of these come directly or indirectly from the free access to professional news or entertainment content produced by the media.

"The situation is very bad for media groups. This use is carried out without the authorisation from copyright holders or without any payment in return. So, all aggregators, like Google, should pay.

"Google's openness to negotiate and talk looks like a good step that must now be followed in other countries."

Throughout its standoff with the French media however, Google pointed out that on average it could send anything up to four billion clicks to the country's media sites each month, due to its search listings: This, in essence, acts as free traffic for the sites, without the need for SEO efforts which are typically required to get higher up in Google's page rankings.

Google agreed a similar deal with the Belgian publishers in December, but still face opposition from German publishers who are standing firm on the issue - refusing to accept any similar kind of offer Google throws their way.

In fact, the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers and Federation of German Magazine Publishers issued a combined news release on the French deal stating: "The agreement is not a model for Germany."

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