In a fresh twist to the allegations of unfair revenue-sharing terms on news content against Google, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered another detailed probe against the big tech giant into the matter.
The fresh probe, which comes on a complaint filed by the News Broadcasters & Digital Association, will be combined with two other similar ongoing enquiries against the search engine major, news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
In an order issued on October 6, the regulator said its probe arm’s director general will issue a combined inquiry report into the matter as the fresh allegations are substantially the same as the earlier complaints, PTI said.
The association claimed its members are forced to provide news content to Google in order to prioritize their weblinks in its Search Engine Result Page (SERP). They said the search engine gets their content for free but does not give them adequate compensation, the news agency said.
The association alleged Google exploited the dependency of the publishers on the search engine to build services such as Google News, Google Discover and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, PTI said.
Earlier this year, the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) and the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) had filed two separate complaints that were clubbed together by the CCI.
The Indian news publishers, both print and digital, had been calling for action against Google for allegedly imposing unfair terms on them and abusing its dominant position, The Indian Printer and Publisher had earlier reported.
The DNPA comprises the digital platforms of some of the leading Indian newspapers and media groups, and includes platforms such as Eenadu, Malayalam Manorama, Bennett Coleman, Indian Express, NDTV, India Today, and the ABP group.
The government of India is also mulling over regulatory interventions to force giants such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, and Apple to pay Indian news publishers, both print and digital, a part of their revenue for using their original content, the minister of state for electronics and information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, had indicated last month.
The minister has noted that the market power of digital advertising is being consolidated in the hands of only a few Big Tech majors, leaving Indian media companies and many original content creators at a disadvantage.
Google has already been compelled by the competition commissions of the governments of Australia, France, and Germany to come up with a fairer way of sharing revenues with news publishers. In addition, the Competition Commission in France has levied a fine of 500 million Euros on Google, which has been recently confirmed by the country’s courts.
Australia was one of the first countries to come up with a new law requiring platforms such as Facebook and Google to pay local news publishers to link their content on their news feeds or search results. The agreement was forced by the government as Google and Facebook declined to amicably negotiate with the news publishers.
In fact, there has been an increased clamor and action against the Big Tech with many countries imposing fines in the form of millions of dollars or launching probes over their alleged monopolistic practices and privacy law violations.