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Google to pay $1 billion over three years for news content – Business News – Castanet.net

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Google will pay publishers $1 billion over the next three years for their content, the company’s latest effort to diffuse tensions over its dominance of the news industry.

The company said Thursday that it has signed agreements for its news partnership program with nearly 200 publications in Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

“This financial commitment – our biggest to date – will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience,” CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.

On Thursday, Google’s News Showcase is launching in Brazil and Germany, featuring story panels that let publishers package stories with features like timelines. It will appear first on Google News on Android, then Apple iOS, before it is rolled out to Google Discover and Search.

The publications that have signed up include Germany’s Der Spiegel and Stern and Brazil’s Folha de S.Paulo.

Other features like video, audio and daily briefings are also in the works. Pichai said Google is working to expand the program to other countries, namely India, Belgium and the Netherlands. He did not say whether the U.S. would be included.

The funding builds on a news licensing program launched by Google in June, as it seeks defuse tensions with the beleaguered news industry. News companies want Google, and its Silicon Valley rival Facebook, to pay for the news content that they siphon from commercial media while taking the lion’s share of ad revenue.

Skeptics remain, however.

The European Publishers Council said it’s an attempt by Google to stave off legislation and government action to get them to negotiate.

“Many are quite cynical about Google’s perceived strategy,” said Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the council. “By launching a product, they can dictate terms and conditions, undermine legislation designed to create conditions for a fair negotiation, while claiming they are helping to fund news production.”

The council’s members include German publisher Axel Springer and the British unit of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which have been fighting a yearslong battle to get the tech giants to pay for news stories appearing on their platforms.

The pressure has been rising over compensation in a number of countries for Google and Facebook.

Australia’s government is drafting a law to make Facebook and Google pay the country’s media companies for the news content they use by early October. Facebook has responded by threatening to block Australian news content rather than pay for it.

In France, Google has refused to show snippets of some stories as it fights government demands for license fees to publishers, as required by a recent European Union directive.

Facebook last year unveiled its own plan to pay U.S. news companies including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today for their headlines — reportedly millions of dollars in some cases. It also said in 2019 that it was investing $300 million over three years in news initiatives, with a focus on local news partnerships and third-party fact-checking.

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Quibi app to shut down – Entertainment News – Castanet.net

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Movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile streaming service, Quibi, is shutting down, six months after it launched with original series and films featuring Anna Kendrick and Sophie Turner.

Katzenberg and his partner Meg Whitman are expected to confirm their decision to wind down the short-form video service this week after speaking with investors, according to Deadline.

The service launched in April just after COVID-19 shut down Hollywood.

Initial pay-to-view items on the service included projects directed by heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, and Antoine Fuqua, while Kendrick’s series Dummy and Kiefer Sutherland’s remake of The Fugitive became quick hits. The service also produced the Emmy-winning series #FreeRayshawn.

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Quibi is shutting down just six months after launching – MobileSyrup

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Surprise: Quibi is dead.

Quibi, a short form mobile-focused video streaming service that struggled to find an audience amid a global pandemic where many people are working from home, is shutting down, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Given the platform was available for only six months, this makes it one of the shortest-lived streaming services ever.

Several factors likely played into Quibi’s untimely demise, including that a mobile-focused streaming service doesn’t make sense when people are home, that none of its content was really compelling enough to attract returning subscribers, and the fact that you can watch short-form video content on platforms like YouTube and TikTok entirely for free.

It’s unclear what will happen to Quibi’s lineup of celebrity-filled content. The Information initially reported co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is also the former Walt Disney Studios chairman, attempted to sell Quibi’s content to Facebook and NBCUniversal, but ultimately failed.

Quibi launched in Canada on April 6th for $6.99 per month for a subscription tier that featured ads and $9.99 per month to remove ads. The platform forged a partnership with Bell that included exclusive sports and news content from CTV News and TSN. Bell’s Quibi initiatives will likely be cancelled entirely. MobileSyrup has reached out to Bell for more information.

It’s also worth noting the report of Quibi’s shutdown comes just two days after Bell Media president Randy Lennox announced that he’s departing the company. Lennox was reportedly the driving force behind Bell’s investment in Quibi.

Quibi allowed viewers to watch content in both landscape and portrait mode. While the platform was initially off to a strong start, it struggled to keep subscribers around after it’s free trial ended. Some reports indicated that Quibi lost 92 percent of its early users following the end of the platform’s free trial.

The service eventually launched apps for Apple TV, Android TV and Apple TV, moving beyond its mobile-focused Android and iOS apps.

Notable content included Let’s Roll with Tony Greenhand, a show about a man that rolls ornate marijuana spliffs for celebrities, Bad Ideas with Adam Devine, 50 States of Fright, Chrissy’s Court with Chrissy Teigen and several more.

For a complete list of Quibi’s content, follow this link.

It remains unclear when Quibi will remain operational until or what will happen to users that have paid a subscription fee. MobileSyrup has reached out for more information from Quibi.

Update 10/21/2020 6:43pm: Quibi has confirmed that it’s shutting down in a press release. It says that “following the company’s wind down and satisfaction of all liabilities, the remaining funds will be returned to its investors as specified in the company’s operating agreement. ”

“We have assembled a world-class creative and engineering team that has created an original platform fueled by groundbreaking technology and IP, enabling consumers to view premium content in a whole new way. The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched and our standalone business model is no longer viable. I am deeply grateful to our employees, investors, talent, studio partners and advertisers for their partnership in bringing Quibi to millions of mobile devices,” said Katzenberg in the press release.

Quibi says that it’s working with “legal and financial advisors” to “identify a suitable buyer or buyers for its assets.”

Regarding subscribers, Quibi says that it’s sending out notifications regarding the final date they will be able to access the platform.

Further, Bell says that it’s “in touch with Quibi management and discussing next steps.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal 

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WestJet to start refunding flights cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic – Global News

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WestJet will be offering refunds to WestJet and Swoop passengers whose flights were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WestJet is the first Canadian airline to provide cash refunds for all flights. It had previously offered refunds for specific flights only, with future flight credit available for the majority of cancelled flights.

Read more:
WestJet offers refunds to passengers with cancelled European flights

In an emailed statement, the airline said starting Monday, Nov. 2, eligible passengers will be contacted “proactively,” a process that will start with those whose flights were cancelled by the airline at the start of the pandemic, starting with trips booked for March.

“The refund process is expected to take six to nine months to work through eligible requests,” WestJet said.

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The airline said it also expects an “administrative backlog” as the process gets underway, and asked customers to be patient, and wait to be contacted rather than contacting the airline themselves.

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Those looking for refunds for trips booked through WestJet Vacations are asked to continue following the process already in place.

Read more:
Airline passengers voice frustrations after WestJet cuts services, refunds with vouchers

“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said in a news release.

“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID-19 world, they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds.

“We have been delivering on a safe environment through our Safety Above All program since the onset of the pandemic and as of Monday, Nov. 2, we will proactively provide refunds to original form of payment to itineraries cancelled by WestJet and Swoop.”






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WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic


WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic

In a blog post on the WestJet website, Sims said the airline has been faced with a 95 per cent drop in demand, adding that for 72 days in a row, cancellations outnumbered bookings — a first in the company’s 25-year history.

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Now, bookings are once again higher than cancellations, WestJet said, but still not on par with what they were before the pandemic hit.

Read more:
Latest WestJet layoffs affect 3,333 employees as COVID-19 cripples airline industry

More than 140 of WestJet’s 181 planes are currently parked, Sims said, and more than 4,000 employees have been laid off.

The airline also suspended its service in Atlantic Canada earlier this month, citing the coronavirus pandemic as making the service “unviable.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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