Select Committee on Communications Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1640 - 1647)


Mr David Schlesinger, Mr Pierre Lesourd and Mr Tony Watson

  Q1640  Chairman: But they do not pay you for that?

  Mr Schlesinger: But the people who go to our website then increase the value of our website to advertisers, so we get paid by having more people come to our website.

  Q1641  Lord Maxton: So do you then pay them because some advertisers pay, so you are getting it on Google or Yahoo, which are the two main pages when people turn on the internet, so do you pay them to ensure that your stories are there so that in fact you do get more customers?

  Mr Watson: Google do pay us for our content.

  Q1642  Lord Maxton: Google pay you?

  Mr Watson: Yes.

  Q1643  Baroness Eccles of Moulton: Do they always attribute the source to you, Google and Yahoo, and will there be a link through?

  Mr Schlesinger: Yes. Google has changed its algorithm so that now they tend to go to the original source and that helps us greatly. It used to be that, if people then subsequently used our story, it might flow to them, but now it is much clearer where the original source of the story was and that is very helpful.

  Q1644  Chairman: So Google pay PA, but they do not pay Reuters?

  Mr Schlesinger: I honestly do not know all the relationships. I know that we get a lot of click-throughs and I know that the primary way in which we monitor that is through people coming to our website.

  Q1645  Chairman: What about AFP?

  Mr Lesourd: After a long legal battle of two years, we now have the same agreement with Google as the Associated Press and PA, and I think we are in the same framework agreement, yes.

  Q1646  Baroness Eccles of Moulton: Did you have to pressurise them to change their algorithm or did they do it off their own bat, Google?

  Mr Schlesinger: I believe that they found it useful for them to go to the originator because that gave them more credibility.

  Mr Watson: I think also, and they recognise this themselves, they were misleading their users because of the way their system works. If a largely PA story appeared, for example, in The Daily Telegraph with a PA picture, the way in which it credited that material when it appeared on Google News was as a Telegraph article and picture. Well, it is more difficult to copyright words, but pictures are very easy to track and they recognised that they were inadvertently guilty of mis-crediting content which actually belonged somewhere else.

  Q1647  Baroness Thornton: Do you not think that AFP actually did everybody a service by taking two years out to sue Google in that it changed their behaviour in the marketplace?

  Mr Watson: It is always a judgment whether to go to law or to strike a deal as the best way to go.

  Chairman: Well, I think we will go further into this no doubt at a slightly later stage. I think at this point we have overrun our time, but thank you very much. It is obviously the agencies which perhaps do not get as much coverage from outside as some of the newspapers and the broadcasting organisations, but you are obviously integral as far as news provision is concerned and particularly crucial for foreign news as well. I would like to thank all three of you very much for your patience and for the information you have given. Thank you very much.

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