India’s Competition Commission orders Google investigation after newspaper publishers’ complaint


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India’s competition watchdog on Friday ordered an investigation into Alphabet Inc’s Google following allegations by the Digital News Publishers Association, saying it was necessary to ensure that digital companies did not abuse their dominant position.

“In a well-functioning democracy, the essential role played by the news media cannot be compromised, and we must ensure that digital security companies do not abuse their dominant position to undermine the competitive process of determine an equitable distribution of income among all stakeholders. “said the Competition Commission of India in its order.

The association alleged that Google had “abused” its dominant position in news aggregation, resulting in ad loss for publishers, as they only receive 51% of ad spend.

The Commission said there was a need to examine whether Google’s use of snippets is the result of an imbalance in bargaining power between Google and news publishers on the other hand, and whether this affects traffic referral to the websites of news publishers and hence their monetization capabilities. .

The TCC ordered the Director General to investigate the allegations made by the Association and to complete and submit the investigation report within 60 days of the date of receipt of the order.

Google is already facing an ICC investigation into its Play Store policy to collect a hefty commission from app developers.

“At this point, the Commission is satisfied that there is prima facie evidence against the alleged conduct of Google, which merits investigation,” he said.

The investigation will examine the alleged violations of section 4 (2) (a), section 4 (2) (b) (ii), 4 (2) (c), section 26 (1) of the Act.

“Without a doubt, Google, being the gateway, generates substantial traffic for news publishers, but at the same time the imbalance of bargaining power and the denial of a fair share of advertising revenue, as alleged l informant, deserve a thorough investigation … “It said.

Based on the information available, it appears that the snapshot highlights the alleged imbalance in bargaining power that stems from Google’s alleged position as a necessary business partner for digital news publishers in public access. online as well as in digital advertising revenue generation, says CCI.

“… the case also raises the issue of the alleged lack of transparency and information asymmetry in the ad technology services provided by Google, which prevents publishers from optimizing the performance of their inventory. advertising, ”he observed.

In its order, the Commission stated that it is prima facie convinced that Google is dominant in the two relevant markets, namely the market for general online web search services and the market for online search of advertising services. in India.

The DG’s investigation would make it possible to examine the problems in a holistic manner by giving all concerned the opportunity to present their case, he added.

The Commission also took note of the developments in some countries such as France and Australia, as mentioned by the Association, that Google has been asked to enter into fair / good faith negotiations with news publishers for paid licensing of content to address the imbalance in bargaining power. between the two and the resulting imposition of unfair conditions by Google.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The complainant, the Digital News Publishers Association, alleged that Google denied fair advertising revenue to its members.

He argued that Google is the main player in the digital advertising space, and it unilaterally decides how much to pay publishers for content created by them, as well as the terms under which the aforementioned amounts are to be paid.

Google not only has a monopoly position in search in India, but it also has a very strong position in advertising intermediation and controls / retains most of it at every level, the Association said in its submission to the ICC.

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