Google has responded to Nine Entertainment chair Peter Costello’s criticisms that the tech giants profit from using media reports while contributing little to Australia.
Mr Costello told Nine’s annual general meeting on Thursday that producing its range of material would become unviable if not compensated when used by tech giants.
“They make very little Australian content and contribute very little to Australian employment,” Mr Costello said of Facebook and Google.
“Nonetheless, they are able to use the premium content we produce to attract audiences in the Australian market.”
Mr Costello’s comments come as a mandatory code is devised to ensure Facebook and Google pay for using news stories on their services.
It also comes ahead of a Senate inquiry into media diversity.
Google said Mr Costello’s claims are incorrect.
A spokesman said Google invested about $1 billion in Australia last year, and had 1800 jobs in the country.
Nine, News Corp and others’ chief complaint is that Google and Facebook have taken much of their advertising revenue by using news stories on their search and social platforms.
If Nine was not fairly compensated, it would become unviable to produce all its programming, Mr Costello said.
Yet Google said it commissioned research which showed newspaper advertising was mostly lost to online classifieds providers such as Carsales, Domain and Seek.
Google said it did not use news stories, but linked to them as it did with every page on the web.
The spokesman said Google search results sent billions of user queries to Australian news publishers each year.
This web traffic was worth $218 million in 2018, the spokesman said.
Media operators are hopeful of the mandatory code being devised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will help.
Mr Costello said the final detail would be important.
Facebook has also been contacted for comment.