As CCI opens probe into Google, Indian media keeps fingers crossed

Competition Commission of India opens investigation into tech giant following complaint by Digital News Publishers Association

Google
HD Media claims Google has so monopolized the online ad market that it threatens the extinction of local newspapers across the country | Representative Photo: iStock

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has opened an investigation into Alphabet Inc’s Google following allegations from news publishers, saying its “prima facie view” was that the tech giant had broken some antitrust laws.

The CCI said Google dominates certain online search services in the country and may have imposed unfair conditions on news publishers.

The order came on a complaint filed by the Digital News Publishers Association, which comprises the digital arms of some of the country’s biggest media companies.

Also read: Indian newspapers demand Google pay for news

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“In a well-functioning democracy, the critical role played by news media cannot be undermined,” the CCI order said. “It appears that Google is using its dominant position in the relevant markets to enter/protect its position in the market for news aggregation service.”

“In view of the foregoing analysis, in sum, the Commission is of prima facie view that Google has violated provisions of Section 4 of the Act,” the order said.

Also read: Apple urges Competition Commission of India to dismiss anti-trust case

News organisations have complained for years about tech companies using stories in search results or other features without payment.

The CCI order also mentioned new rules in France and Australia – fuelled by media lobbying and public pressure – that have led to licensing deals around the world collectively worth billions of dollars.

Last year the Indian Newspaper Society, which represents around 1,000 publishers, said Google “should pay for news generated by the newspapers, which employ thousands of journalists”.

“Since the content which is generated and published by newspapers at considerable expense is proprietary, the Society pointed out that it is this credible content which has given Google the authenticity in India ever since its inception,” the association said in a statement.

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