“In a well-functioning democracy, the critical role of news media must not be undermined, and care must be taken that digital gatekeepers do not abuse their dominant position to harm the competitive process of determining a fair distribution of revenue 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, leading to ad losses for publishers, to the extent that they received only 51% of ad spend.
The Commission said it needs to be examined whether Google’s use of snippets is the result of an imbalance in bargaining power between Google and the news publishers, on the other hand, and whether this affects referral traffic to news publisher websites, and thus their ability to monetize to generate .
The CCI instructed the Director General to investigate the Association’s allegations and to complete and submit the investigative report within 60 days from the date of receipt of the warrant.
Google is already facing an investigation by CCI into its Play Store policy of levying significant commissions on app developers.
“At this stage, the Commission is convinced that there is prima facie a case against Google’s alleged conduct which merits an investigation,” it said.
The investigation will investigate alleged violations of Section 4(2)(a), Section 4(2)(b)(ii), 4(2)(c), Section 26(1) of the Act.
“Undoubtedly, as a gateway, Google generates significant traffic for news publishers, but at the same time, the imbalance in bargaining power and the denial of a fair share of ad revenue, as alleged by the informant, merit detailed investigation…” it said.
Based on the information available, it appears that the immediate information highlights the alleged imbalance in bargaining power arising from Google’s alleged position as a necessary trading partner for digital news publishers in reaching online audiences and generating digital advertising revenue. , the said CCI.
“…the case also highlights the problem of the alleged lack of transparency and information asymmetry in the ad technology services provided by Google, which prevents publishers from optimizing returns on their ad inventory,” it noted.
The Commission stated in its decision that it considers prima facie that Google is dominant in both relevant markets, ie the market for online general search services on the web and the market for online search for advertising services in India.
The DG’s inquiry could explore the issues in a comprehensive manner by giving all concerned the opportunity to present their case, it added.
The Commission also noted developments in some countries, such as France and Australia, referred to by the Association, that Google has been asked to engage in fair/good faith negotiations with news publishers for paid content licensing to overcome the imbalance in bargaining power. between the two and the resulting imposition of unfair terms by Google.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The complainant, Digital News Publishers Association, has alleged that Google has denied its members fair advertising revenue.
It has argued that Google is the main stakeholder in the digital advertising space and unilaterally determines the amount to be paid to publishers for the content they produce, as well as the terms and conditions on which the above-mentioned amounts are to be paid.
Not only does Google have a monopolistic position in search in India, it also has a very strong position in ad brokerage, controlling/holding the largest share at every level, the Association said in its filing with the CCI.