CCI orders probe into Google’s alleged abuse of position in online news market

Producers and publishers of news, made available in digital format, are not paid a fair value, says INS

March 25, 2022 09:37 pm | Updated 09:37 pm IST - New Delhi

Twitter image of Competition Commission of India.

Twitter image of Competition Commission of India.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a probe into complaints against Google for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the online news market.

In a statement, the Indian Newspapers Society (INS) said that Alphabet Inc. (the parent company of Google), Google LLC, Google India Private Limited, Google Ireland Limited and Google Asia Pacific Pte Limited are allegedly abusing their dominant position related to news referral services and Google Ad Tech services in the Indian online news media market, which is in violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002.

The INS alleged that producers/publishers of news, which is made available in digital format, are not being paid a fair value for their content despite their having invested heavily in creating appropriate content for customers, who search for news items using the Google platform.

"Several countries, including Australia, France and Spain, have passed legislation requiring tech companies, including Google, to adequately compensate content producers for using their content and search results," the INS said.

It said news media houses are completely kept in the dark on the total advertising revenue collected by Google and what actual percentage of the advertising revenue is being transferred to media organisations.

“The European Publishers Council had also filed a competition complaint against Google alleging that Google has achieved end to end control of the ad-tech value chain, thus abusing its dominant position,” the INS said.

"The CCI after examining the contentions of INS, the representative organisation of newspapers in the country, found that prima facie these allegations of abuse of dominant position are under the purview of the Competition Act 2002 and that it requires a detailed investigation by the director general," it said.

The CCI accordingly passed an order to club the information submitted by the INS with the submissions made by the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) on similar contentions, the INS said.

"The INS has been working towards obtaining proper compensation for content...for its members and other news publishers...from Google. The INS looks forward to the implementation of a just payment system at the earliest," it said.

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