Menu
Publishers urge European Commission to reject Google antitrust deal

Publishers urge European Commission to reject Google antitrust deal

Accepting Google's commitments would secure its dominance rather than temper it, the publishers said

European periodical and online publishers have urged the European Commission to reject Google's latest proposal to settle an antitrust case.

The commitments proposed by Google would not stop the company's "abusive promotion of its own services," the publishers said in their response, sent to the Commission and published online Thursday.

"On the contrary, accepting these commitments would inflict additional harm to competition, innovation and consumer choice as they are based on an ineffective and harmful concept. They will secure Google dominance in any market it wishes to enter and legalize its anti-competitive conduct," the publishers said in their statement. Attached to the statement is a list of more than 30 European associations of newspaper, magazine and online publishers.

Google has been under investigation by the Commission since November 2010 after competitors complained that the company favored its own services in search results, reducing the visibility of results from competing sites. To mitigate these concerns, Google has proposed to show three clearly labeled rival links for every query that results in links to Google's services. Some of these links will require the rivals to pay Google.

Joaquín Almunia, Commission vice president in charge of competition policy, said earlier this year that these settlement proposals were acceptable. Since than, he has been working to convince the complainants and his fellow commissioners to accept the proposals.

In June, the Commission sent the complainants a letter outlining its reasons for accepting Google's proposals, giving them a chance to respond within four weeks.

Though the publishers issued their reply on Thursday, the Commission received the response in time, said the publishers' lawyer, Thomas Hoppner. Publication was delayed because of the holiday period, he said, adding that the publishers wanted to make sure their rebuttal was read by as many people as possible.

The publishers pointed out that under the current proposal, the most prominent areas of any search results pages would be reserved for Google's own services, independent of their quality, while all rival services have to accept inferior visibility even if they are far more relevant to a search query.

In the case of a mobile-product search for instance, Google would be able to show six times as many products as even the most successful rival, they said. "The proposed layout ensures Google's services the highest click-rates and, ultimately, market share," they said.

The only relevant commitment by Google is the addition of three "rival links" whenever Google puts links to its own monetized services first, the publishers said. "However, in the most relevant commercial areas rivals will have to bid for a Rival Link in an auction and pay Google the highest price for a click," they said, adding that as a result, websites would not be ranked by relevance anymore but primarily according to the price they are willing to pay Google.

"As a new type of ad, Rival Links are not a concession but a new revenue stream for Google. As rivals could always bid for AdWords-ads, their situation is not improved," they said.

The publishers complaints are in line with those of Google rival and lead complainant Foundem, which slammed the Commission over the antitrust settlement proposals in July. Foundem blasted the Commission for apparently adopting wholesale Google's proposal to settle the case, while giving complainants no fair chance to express their views on the settlement.

According to Foundem, the Commission's key arguments for adopting Google's proposals are erroneous and directly contradict the fundamental conclusions of the Commission's own preliminary assessment.

Almunia said in a news conference on Wednesday that the Commission ended up sending letters to 20 complainants. Eventually he received 18 replies. "We are now analyzing these responses," he said, declining to comment on when the Commission would be able to reach a decision.

The current Commission's term of office runs until the end of October. It is uncertain whether Almunia will be able to fashion a final consensus within the Commission by then. If he does not, a decision can be postponed until the next Commission is installed.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags antitrustGoogleeuropean commissionlegal

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments