Google denies killing newspapers, which still have wider reach than the web

Google insists that it is not stealing business away from print media, even as it becomes a dominant source of news on the web.

“We are not making money on the back of newspapers,” Stefan Tweraser, head of Google Germany, told a media industry conference in Vienna.

According to Tweraser, the company pays six billion US dollars for news services worldwide and draws content from some 50 000 publishing companies around the world.

Tweraser disclosed the figures at an annual gathering of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

“Google’s real business model is partnerships… Google News lives because we have 50 000 partners with whom we share our revenues,” he said.

As further evidence that Google does not hold a de facto monopoly over the web, Tweraser pointed to fellow search engines Yahoo! and Bing, as well as local competitors in Russia and China.

“There are a lot of alternatives to Google,” he said.

The results of a survey conducted by the conference organisers would seem to validate Tweraser’s claims.

While print sales continue to decline in the west, the survey says, they are still on the rise in the east.

Significantly, the survey also points out that print media still has a much wider reach than the internet.

Newspapers reach 2.3-billion people daily, while the internet reaches 1.9-billion, it says.

According to the survey:

In the Asia-Pacific region, circulations increased 7 percent from 2009 to 2010, and 16% over five years. Latin America also saw significant circulation increases — 2 percent last year and 4.5% over the past five years. But drops occurred in Europe – 2.5% year-on-year and 11.8% over five years in Western Europe and 12% last year and 10% over five years in Eastern and Central Europe. The decreases were greatest in North America, where newspapers have lost 11% of circulation year-on-year and 17% over five years.

Although newspaper advertising revenues are down overall, they have picked up marginally over the past year in a number of markets:

In North America, newspaper advertising revenues were down 17% for the five-year period but increased one percent last year. In Western Europe, they were down 12 percent over five years and up two percent last year. Eastern Europe saw advertising revenues fall three percent over five years and three percent last year. In the Asia-Pacific, newspaper advertising revenues were down one percent over five years but up 4 percent last year. In Latin America, the revenues declined 23% over five years and three percent last year.

The survey also noted that mobile offers more opportunities than the internet, particularly in emerging markets where mobile penetration is much higher:

In Russia, for example, mobile penetration is 130% compared with 30% for internet, so clearly mobile offers better opportunities. The same goes for India, where 60% of its 1-billion population has mobile telephones. In the United States, where the penetration of both mobile and internet is high, both platforms offer opportunities.



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