The Indian antitrust authorities ordered an investigation into Google following complaints from news publishers accusing the company of abusing its dominant position as a news aggregator and imposing unfair conditions on the media.
The India Competition Commission said Google had a dominant position in some online services and the company had allegedly violated local antitrust laws. The agency recalled the experience in France and Australia, where Google was instructed to enter into paid content licensing agreements with publishers, thereby depriving the search engine giant of the ability to impose unfair conditions on the media.
The commission’s 21-page document states that Google is practically a bridge between news agencies and readers, leaving the media with a choice: agree to all Google terms or reject the traffic generated by the search giant. For a publisher, giving up the company’s services means less revenue.
The investigation was launched following a complaint from the Digital News Publishers Association, which represents India’s largest media company. The association’s members get more than half of their traffic from search engines, and this market is clearly dominated by Google. According to the association, Google limits the number of visitors to news portals, affects their advertising income and continues to generate income from advertising on its page in search. The terms of the advertising revenue sharing between publishers and Google are unilaterally dictated by the search engine giant, and the media has no choice but to accept these terms without negotiation. Media revenue is also affected by Google’s policies forcing them to adopt the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) page format, which also reduces advertising revenue.